Recipe: Old school Italian with new school wheat

As an Italian kid growing up wheat anything was an aberration. We didn’t eat wheat that I can recall. I never recall Nonie even having it in her kitchen. Perhaps she did. I just knew I didn’t like wheat, plain and simple.

Now all things white are truly the enemy of the first rule of a healthy food plan: eat right. To eat right, you need to avoid the white. Whites like sugar, potatoes, rice and flour play havoc in our bodies. So the deeper I get into making dough the more I try to incorporate wheat flour. Today I took an old school Sicilian bread I’ve made and modified ever so slightly, and worked in two healthier grains: stone-ground wheat flour and flax meal.  Follow along in pictures and learn to make this bread for yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup flax meal (I used Bob’s)
  • 1 cup stone-ground wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons powdered garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 egg white
  • sprinkling of sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Mix the yeast into the water and set aside for about 8 minutes or so.
  2. Mix all the dry in  a mixing bowl with your fingers like a rake. Cut in oil.
  3.  Pour water into the bowl. Using a dough hook on your kitchen aid, set to low, mix for two minutes. Then turn up one notch and mix for five more. If you don’t have a dough hook, just do some old fashioned kneading for 10 minutes.
  4. Take out of the bowl and knead for two more minutes. Form into a dough ball. Either put in an oiled glass bowl and cover with wrap or… break out the storage box like this:

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I love it and you’ll soon see why.

5. After the dough has doubled (about 60-90 minutes) we’re going to fold it over. This replaces the old “punching” method in a way that still activates the glutton but doesn’t impact the rise and lightness of the dough. Pizza dough should be punched. You don’t want bubbles in your crust. Wheat bread needs all the lift it can get.

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So the fold… First, wet your hands and then fold it about 2/3 over on itself. Then turn the dough and do it again. Check it out:

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Then fold it the other way exactly the same and flip, seam-sides down so it looks like this:

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Let it rise again for 30-45 minutes and repeat. Wait another 30 minutes and do it a final time. After 30 more minutes or so take your beautifully smelling dough out and set it up on a prepared peel or a baking sheet.

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On the peel, form into a free-form shape of your loaf. I don’t like bread pans. I like it to look more natural.  Like this loaf of Sicilian Bread I made last Christmas:

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It’s a bit more beautiful than a square loaf pan don’t you think? Anyway, cover the loaf with a towel and let it finish its final rise. All this gentle lifting will keep the loaf larger and lighter and resist the wheat’s heaviness. Go ahead and pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Take a knife and cut a slit. Then brush the top with egg whites and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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Now that’s it ready slide it into the oven.

After it’s been in the oven about three minutes, sprinkle some water on it with either the splatter off a brush or a spray bottle. This will help the crust color properly. Do it once or twice more within the first 10 minutes. Let it cook for a total of 42-45 minutes. It will sound hollow if you pound it with the heel of your hand when it’s done and it will look like this:

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Effin beauty, a mix of old school Italy with a little new school wheat.

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