Culy Italia: Buono come il pane

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For the  Culy Italia  column, Saskia Balmaekers, Italy expert and blogger of  Ciao Tutti ,  writes  her favorite Italian recipes, hotspots and tips. 

For 1 small loaf

  • 3 large dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 40 grams of walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon star anise powder
  • 100 grams wheat flour
  • 45 grams of wholemeal flour
  • 20 grams dark rye flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 65 grams baker’s yeast
  • 130 milliliters of warm water

A generous, warm-hearted person is described in Italy as buono come il pane , as good as bread. The Italian bread can indeed be called buono ; it’s delicious every time, from the sweet rolls for breakfast to bruschetta for lunch, from freshly baked grissini as a starter to a basket full of fresh bread to wipe up the last bit of the also buono pasta sauce, from a tramezzino with tuna to a piece of cheese with fig bread.

Yesterday we baked the latter in our kitchen in Puglia, to take with us when we are out all day, with some cheese, so that we can stop at the most beautiful places for a snack or lunch. We’d love to share a few slices with you, but instead the recipe to get started on your own.

Mix the figs, nuts and anise and set aside. Mix the flour, the two types of flour and the salt in a (small) bowl. This is the dry mixture. In a (larger) bowl, mix the baker’s yeast and water. This is the wet mixture.

Add the dry mixture plus the fig mixture to the wet mixture and mix well. Cover with the bowl containing the dry mixture and let it sit for 10 minutes. Knead the dough after 10 minutes. Pull a part of the dough up at the side and press it in the middle. Rotate the bowl slightly and repeat this process with another piece of dough. Repeat eight times. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 10 seconds; the dough should start to struggle a bit. Cover the bowl again and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Repeat the kneading and covering twice and then knead well again. Then cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 1 hour. Then, when it has doubled in size, work the dough with your fist to let the air escape.

Dust a clean work surface with a little flour. Place the dough ball on top and fold one side of the dough towards the center. Fold the opposite side to the center. Now roll the dough into a sausage. Taper the ends. Now let the dough rise until it’s about twice its size – this will take three to six hours (which gave us plenty of time for lunch and a trip).

After that time, preheat the oven to 240°C for about 20 minutes. Place a roasting pan in the bottom of the oven. Place the dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Make diagonal cuts in the top of the dough with a sharp knife. Slide it into the oven. Pour a cup of water into the roasting pan for proper humidity. Reduce the oven temperature to 220°C and bake the bread until golden brown for about half an hour. Let it cool well on a rack.

Curious about more buonissimo bread recipes? Then pick up your heart with

Source: Culy by
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