Pugliese Recipe

Did I mention you’ll need some durum flour? You will, and it can be hard to find. You can of course order it online, or just use all white flour instead. The loaf you’ll get will have as much right to be called “Pugliese” as mine — ’cause neither one of them will be made in Apulia! Anyway, my recipe is a variation on one I found in Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Bread Bible. The main difference is that where hers calls for a commercial yeast-based biga starter, mine calls for a “sour” starter — the kind I put up instructions for on the menu over there to the right. It gives you a lot more flavor (and a reason to keep re-using that starter). Anyway, here it is. For two 13-ounce loaves:

5 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
5 ounces durum flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
7 ounces water
10 ounces refrigerated starter

The treatment of the starter is an important part of the process. It can’t be ancient, flat, firm stater that hasn’t seen the light of day for weeks. It must be light and bubbly — not that it’s going to leaven the bread much. The idea is to build it up in the day or so leading up to baking. I “wake” mine two days before with a feeding and 4-hour fermentation at room temperature. I then put it in the refrigerator overnight and do the same thing the following day, building it up to the quantity I need (and then some). Then I refrigerate it again for use the next day. I quadruple this recipe because, well, my oven holds a lot of bread.

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix with the paddle for two minutes to combine your ingredients. Switch to the dough hook and knead for five more minutes, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl (if it doesn’t, add more flour a couple of tablespoons at a time until it does).

Turn the dough out into an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let it rise for half an hour, then stretch and/or fold it once or twice. Let it rise another half hour and repeat the stretching. Then let it rise another half hour and stretch it again. Let the dough rise for 1 and 3/4 hours after that, until it’s almost tripled in size (this is a very airy dough).

Turn out the dough, and divide it into two equal pieces. Pull each piece into a rough ball shape and place it in a basket (or bowl or colander) lined with a flour-dusted napkin or towel. Let rise for about 1 1/4 hours until it’s puffy. Turn the dough pieces, one at a time, out onto a floured peel and transfer them to a baking stone in 550 degree (or as hot as you can make it) oven. Bake about 20 minutes until dark golden brown.

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