For some reason, baking bread scares me. I have no idea why, maybe it is the whole yeast-rising thing. I am always afraid that I will kill the yeast or that my bread won’t rise.
A friend recently asked my to make a Scali Loaf, the local bread in her hometown of Boston. The bread has almost a cult following in the North End of Boston. I had never had it before so it was hard to know what I was making but thankfully the bread rose and I even figured out how to braid the dough. (For the record, I did try this braid 3 times and the third time seemed to be the charm)
One of the keys to this bread is the starter – you let it sit overnight and create flavor for the bread. It gets all gooey like this:
Now that I have conquered my first loaf, I am up for making more. King Arthur Flour surprisingly has a website with some great looking recipes. Up next maybe these pretzels or a challah?
Recipe from King Arthur Flour
- 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup cool water, enough to make a stiff ball of dough
- pinch of instant yeast
- all of the starter
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons Baker’s Special dry milk or nonfat dry milk
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2/3 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients together, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight. Note: This is a dry, stiff starter. If it’s too dry to come together, add a little water to make the dough come together, and proceed with the recipe as directed.
To make the dough: Combine the starter with the remaining dough ingredients, and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, smooth dough. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl; cover, and let it rise for about 90 minutes, till it’s just about doubled in bulk
Working on a lightly greased surface, roll each log into a rope about 22″ long. Brush each rope with the egg white/water, and sprinkle heavily with the sesame seeds, rolling the ropes gently in the seeds to pick up as many as possible. Grab one end of each rope, and squeeze the ends together firmly. Braid the ropes, tucking the ends under to make a neat braided loaf. Cover the loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow to rise till very puffy, about 90 minutes.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
Bake the loaf for about 25 to 35 minutes, till it’s a deep golden brown. The rolls will need to bake for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack