Since I did French bread last week, I have been wondering what the difference is between Italian bread and French bread, and so here I am at bread number 15 in the book : Breadbaker's Apprentice. Although we usually consider Italian bread to be softer than french bread, Peter Reinhart gives the difference between the two as being very little; since Italians seem to use an old dough(biga) method very closely resembling the pate fermentee used by the French. In his recipe found here, Reinhart has also recommended the use of diastatic barley malt, only I couldn't find any locally, so I went with using the barley malt syrup. I have to say, however, that that little flavor difference made all the difference in the world to our tastebuds. Nic, being Italian, said that this bread was WAY better than the so called Italian breads found here in the US supermarkets. I'll be sending this also over to yeastspotting.
The dough was mixed up with the biga and the wild yeast(Adam) until it formed a smooth dough.
Here is the dough ready for the first bulk ferment.
Wow! It actually rose and almost bubbled out of the bowl. I think the temp was a little too warm!
So, Here are the formed loaves ready to be proofed again and baked in the oven.
The loaves came out deliciously brown and oh so crusty. The addition of the barley malt syrup was definitely key. We ate the loaves so fast, that I forgot to take a crumb shot.