This week's Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is Peter Reinhart's recipe for Italian Bread (which you can get from his book below, starting on page 172-174). Friends joined me in the kitchen and together we made our own individual portions of this bread.
The bread starts out with a biga starter which is then cut into pieces and introduced with the other dry ingredients - bread flour, yeast, salt, sugar, oil and water. Unlike previous weeks when I used my stand mixer to do the kneading for me, we call took a quarter of the dough and kneaded it by hand. We found bread baking as a group to be pretty enjoyable as we kneaded the together over some good conversation! For the first rise, we shaped our dough into a boule. Once the first rise was finished, we began shaping our doughs into batards.
Not everyone had the exact same amount of dough so naturally, there were a few loaves that were larger than others. We let our shaped dough rise for a second time...
Once our loaves doubled in size, we were able to prep our oven for baking. These baked at 500 degrees along with a steam pan and a spritz of water along the oven walls. The oven temperature was then dropped to 450 degrees and baked until done. It took about 15-20 minutes for these to finish.
I really enjoyed making this recipe and thought the process was pretty easy. It takes some patience with bread, but thankfully I had a lot going in the kitchen to make the time go by fast while these were proofing. Next time, I plan on making Italian dinner rolls or perhaps incorporating dried herbs for additional flavor!