Now that we are six, four adults and two children, bread making has become an imperative. My extended family continue to buy white packet bread for school lunches, a bread that I am unable to eat. The other breads used in the household- bread to go with soup, bread after school with vegemite, toasting bread, bread for bruschetta or crostini, come from my oven. This is not just about economy, domestic goddessing or matriarchy, although some of those factors do kick in from time to time. Melbourne’s winters are unpleasant, to put it kindly, and when I’m not running away from the cold, I’m baking, a great excuse to stay indoors and keep warm.
This month, I am revisiting yeasted breads thanks to Leah of the ‘Cookbook Guru‘, who is featuring Carol Field’s The Italian Baker this month. I love this book; it is a great read even if you never bake from it. Her discussion of flour, although comparing Italian flour with American, is enlightening. To date, I have only tried five of her recipes: focaccia, (her method is unusual and produces a great result), pizza, ciabatta, a nut cake and pane integrale. My plan is to stay with Carol Field, twice a week, for a month and to post the results.
Wholemeal Bread with Honey – Pane Integrale con Miele.
Recipe makes one round loaf.
- ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 160 g or 2/3 cup warm water
- 200 g unbleached white flour
Stir the yeast into the water in a mixing bowl: let stand for about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour with 70- 100 strokes of a wooden spoon. Let rise, covered, for 6 to 24 hours. Measure 50 g for the recipe and discard (or stash) the rest.
- 1¾ teaspoons or 5 g dry active yeast
- 35 g honey
- 360 g or 1½ cups warm water
- 500 g wholemeal flour ( organic and stoneground if available)
- 7.5 g or 1½ teaspoons salt.
In most of her recipes, Carol Field offers instructions for making bread by hand, by stand mixer ( such as a Kitchen Aid ) and by processor. I use a standard sized Kitchen Aid in all my bread recipes.
Stir the yeast into the honey and water in a mixing bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add the starter and stir with the paddle until the starter is shredded or disappears. Add the flour and salt and mix with the paddle until the flour comes together. Change to the dough hook and knead for at least 2 minutes at low speed, then 2 minutes at medium speed. The dough should be fairly smooth and have lost most of its stickiness. Finish kneading briefly by hand.
First rise. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours. ( or do an overnight slower rise in the fridge)
Shaping and Second Rise. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and shape into a round loaf without punching down. Place the loaf on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornflour. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled ( around 1 hour).
Baking. Preheat oven to 220ºC, fan forced. If you are using a baking stone, preheat it, then sprinkle with cornmeal and slide the loaf onto it. Otherwise, use the baking sheet. Bake at 220ºC for 10 minutes, spraying the oven three times with water. Reduce heat to 200º C and bake for 25 minutes longer. Cool completely on rack.
This recipe results in a dense, slightly sweet bread. At 100% wholemeal, you feel healthy just thinking about it.
In the good the old days, Italian fornai still produced a dark wholemeal bread. I recall hard, nutty little wholemeal loaves and focaccie made in the forni around Assisi during the 1980s. I couldn’t find any decent wholemeal bread during my last trip there in 2011. Carol Field mentions that whole wheat flour, containing the husk and wheat germ, has almost disappeared from Italy. Often breads passing as Pane Integrale are made from refined white flour with a quantity of bran thrown in!
It turns out that I have posted on this bread before- it must be good!
And other posts from the Italian Baker: