Tomorrow we intended to leave the city for the countryside and spend Midsommar with friends.
To contribute to the cooking I was planning to bring some sourdough bread, which I know is highly appreciated by our friends. And since there would have been also other guests to the celebration I made sure to bake quite a lot of bread. Initially I thought of making two loaves, and prepared 4 pounds of dough accordingly. But when it was the moment to shape I was busy with a feverish kid, so I just made a single, huge, pagnotta (Italian country bread). I guess the term used for this big country loaves outside of Italy is miche, following the French terminology. For some reason French techniques dominate the bread world so I had problems myself finding information about the way traditional Italian breads are made and shaped. So happy I have figured this one out.
Since I started to bake bread, no, actually since I left Italy (I probably would never have baked bread otherwise), I have been longing not just for any Italian bread but for something very specific, which is, a Roman countryside loaf in the style of pane from Lariano or from Genzano. To me that was the one and only REAL bread (probably because I grew up with it). A sourdough with a compact yet airy crumb and a dark, almost burned, crusty crust.
And this loaf, of all I made, not only resembles Roman countryside bread in taste, but it also looks like that. Yes, after buying tons of rising baskets and a technological kneading machine I find out that my favorite loaf doesn’t need either of these tools. Auch. Now what am I going to do with my fancy home baker appliances?
On a positive note, this loaf goes like butter even for someone without much baking experience and, as I said, requires no specific tool. Only a good sourdough starter, good flours and a hot oven. So, if you want to get something which will improve your
Italian Roman countryside bread, get hold of a good baking stone (and of a baker’s peel). All the rest is superfluous.
As you can see, you don’t need a rising basket
The dough is just folded on itself and closed in a kitchen towel
You can be creative in improvising tools to make the loaf stay “in shape”
Larger than life
Det luftar bra (my cat can only speak Swedish)