Pane di Terni as ACLS Mannequin

The holidays are the perfect time to review basic CPR. It’s a matter of statistics, more people eating and laughing simultaneously means a greater likelihood that someone will inhale a melon ball or a hunk of pie and go down next to the Thanksgiving buffet. If you are the one in the family who is BLS/ACLS certified, as I am, when this happens, all eyes will be on you to save that life. 

Show up to the festivities with an AED and a bottle of wine, stow a mouth barrier in your sock, and meanwhile, practice the most important technique–chest compressions–while baking your holiday dishes. Bread dough, for example, offers the perfect opportunity to rehearse. This bread recipe needs 10 minutes of at least 100 compressions/minute. And while you don’t need to pause every 30 to give 2 breaths (the yeast can do just fine on their own thank you), you could substitute the breaths for two kisses on a loved one passing through the kitchen (just as life-sustaining, research shows).  Image

Pane di Terni and ACLS 

Adapted from the Italian Baker

Biga (prepare the night before)

¼ cup sourdough starter

3 ¾ cup flour

1 ½ cup warm water

Mix and cover and leave overnight– the effect of this on the dough is just like giving a 1 mg bolus of epinephrine to a case of asystole.


Mix the refreshed sourdough with 1 cup of warm water until you have a milky paste.  Then add:

½ cup sourdough starter (yes, more)

1 ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

2 ½ cup all purpose flour

2-4 tsp salt (as you will)

Knead for 10 minutes and then let it rest for three hours, covered in an oiled bowl. Make sure you compress quickly and allow for full chest recoil. Image

Remove from the bowl and divide the dough into four equal pieces.  Place four pieces of baking parchment on the counter and sprinkle them with flour.  Shape the dough into boules, and place them on the baking parchment, rough side up.  Cover and let them rest for 30 minutes.Image

Dimple the balls (strange phrase) then oil them with olive oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until they are blistered on the top.  This can take 2-4 hours depending on the heat in the kitchen.  Remove the plastic and let the loaves develop a bit of a skin for 10-15 minutes as you heat the oven and baking stone to 400 degrees F. Image

Pick the dough up and invert it onto a new piece of parchment paper covered in cornmeal, and slide it into the oven on a peal. This is ridiculously challenging. If anyone figures out a smooth way to do this that doesn’t over-handle the dough let me know.

Place in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown. Spray the loaves with water three times in the first three minutes.


I need all four loaves this recipe makes because tomorrow we have an itinerary set for four thanksgiving dinners! Apparently it is too awful to imagine a lonely couple without kids, too poor to fly home, eating out for Thanksgiving (which was my solid Plan B because I have never cooked a turkey and actually prefer steak). Thus, we have been invited to join a myriad of tables—which is a lovely sign that the holiday spirit is alive and well in Rochester. Because I hate to say No to grace, we shall try to appear at as many tables as possible. I’ll be on the edge of my chair, ready for Heimlich, if need be.

4 thoughts on “Pane di Terni as ACLS Mannequin

  1. So Rachel and I watched the best dance routine at my brother Anders’ wedding a few weekends ago. Two individuals went through a whole CPR routine to the beat of a song on the dance floor. It was amazing. Fabulous bread, my sexy wife!!

  2. KP, that sounds like a marvelously surreal moment! I can see it going viral in the medical community 🙂

    Rach, that is glorious-sounding bread! Your ability to make connections between seemingly very disparate things continually amazes me.

    Also, I see I needn’t have worried about you two being lonely on Thanksgiving! You might need those CPR skills after four consecutive celebrations 😉

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