Bread may be the most important thing to Italians. It’s eaten with every meal without fail. Well, in my family it is anyway. Pugliese is similar the ciabatta, but has smaller holes due to the dough being stretched and folded at intervals during the making. This gives the loaf a delightfully chewy texture. Delicious on it’s own, but also great for dipping into a bowl of olive oil and balsamic.
For the Biga (starter)
5g Fresh Yeast
115g Strong Bread Flour
For the Dough
170g Strong white Flour
115g ‘00’ Flour
1 ½ tsp Salt
10g Fresh Yeast
Method Oven 220C
1. Make the biga by putting the water in a bowl and crumbling the yeast in it. Whisk to combine then stir in the flour, making sure there are no lumps. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature overnight or up to 3 days.
2. Make the dough by placing the flours and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the center.
3. Scrape the biga into the well and crumble in the yeast. Pour in the water and stir with a wooden spoon to make a soft dough.
4. Place on floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is completely smooth and stretchy. (you can use a machine with dough hook if you have one).
5. Place in a large oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise until doubled in size.
6. Oil your hands a little and lift the dough out of the bowl. Stretch the dough out and fold into 3 like a business letter. Return to the bowl and cover with cling film. Repeat the stretching and folding 2 more times with 20-minute intervals.
7. Preheat oven to 220C. Place a roasting dish on the bottom shelf.
8. Shape the dough into a round using a circular kneading action. Pat the dough down to flatten it slightly and place on a floured baking tray. Cover with some oiled cling film. Allow to double in size before placing it in the oven.
9. When putting your bread dough in the oven splash a cupful of cold water into the previously heating roasting tray to create steam.
10. Bake for 30 minutes. Spray with some water twice during the first 5 inutes of baking. Turn the oven down to 200C after the first 10 minutes.
11. Your loaf is ready if it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.