I love that I don’t know what day of the week it is. The holidays always do me like this. Blissfully disoriented and marvelously rested–reconnected to the core people in my life, mildly thawed. Sometime before we left on this trip, I made a loaf to gift to the person who made the one thousandth comment on this blog, thanks for reading Mike!—Yes, you too can win prizes which I choose to award at random! (A tactic which happens to have been part of my classroom management plan when I ran a high school science class.) This time the prize was a bread made with mostly semolina flour, great when sliced thin and toasted. I particularly enjoyed the artisanal designs the recipe recommends. The 1000th commenter got the Eye of Santa Lucia.
Adapted from the Italian Baker
Ingredients (makes two loaves):
1 ½ cups sourdough starter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon malt syrup (note: or sugar)
1 cup water, room temp
2 ½ cups durum flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Semolina)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2-3 teaspoons (10-15 grams) salt
1/3 cup sesame seeds
Stir the starter into the water in the bowl. Stir in the oil and malt (sugar); then add the flour and salt and mix until smooth. Finish kneading by hand for 8-10 minutes—crashing when necessary to relax the gluten.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. The dough should be springy and blistered but still soft and velvety.
Punch the dough down, knead it briefly and let it rest for 5 minutes. Flatten it into a square, then roll it into a long narrow rope, about 20-22 inches long. “The dough should be so elastic that it could almost be swung like a jump rope,” says Carol Fields. Cut the dough into two pieces and shape into either:
2) Occhi di Santa Lucia (the Eye of St. Lucia): Place the rope on the counter and start coiling the two ends up, working from opposite directions, so that you have an S shape with spirals in the loops. [pictured above]
Place the loaves on floured parchment paper, peels sprinkled with cornmeal or oiled baking sheets. Brush the entire surface of each loaf lightly with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Pat the seeds gently into the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Heat the oven with stones to 425F. Bake 10 minutes, spraying 3 times with water. Reduce heat to 400F and bake 25-30 minutes longer. Can check for internal temp of 190-200F degrees.
The infinity shape of this bread is how long I intend to carry on with this New Year’s Resolution of 2013–I can’t give bread-baking up. I didn’t quite make a loaf of bread Every Day this year, but 270/365 ain’t bad. Looking for inspiration to nuance the resolution for the coming annum–suggestions?