The teratoma is the funfetti of all tumors. Just so, the Piccia Calabrese is the teratoma, or funfetti, of all breads. Every Italian ingredient has found its way into this recipe. The bread is a random accumulation of things that don’t seem to quite go together. Molars, hair, nose cartilage, nerve ganglions; Mushrooms, pickles, tomatoes…and yet, unlike for a teratoma, for a slice of Calabrian bread, one needs no surgery. Just an appetite. Perhaps a spirit of adventure.
Adapted from The Italian Baker
Make Biga night before:
2 ½ cups flour
¼ cup sourdough starter
1 cup water
Let rise, covered in bowl
To the biga, the next day, add:
½ cup sourdough starter
½ cup warm water
2 tb olive oil
2 tb Sliced mushrooms, sauted in 1 tbsp olive oil
3 tb diced canned tomatoes with juices
1-2 sm Anchovy fillets; boned and chopped
1 tb Capers; drained and chopped
¼ red onion; chopped and sauted with mushroom
3 gherkin pickles; chopped
2 Roasted red peppers; chopped
1 tb Dried oregano
2 1/4 c All-purpose flour
1 ts Salt
Refrigerate the Biga until cold. Stir the starter into the water in a bowl. Saute the mushrooms and chopped onion briefly in the oil and let cool. Roughly chop the tomato, anchovy, capers, artichoke, pickles, and red peppers. Add to the starter and biga. Mix the oregano, flour, salt and slowly add to the dough. Finish kneading by hand on a well-floured surface, sprinkling with 1/2 to 2/3 cup additional flour as needed, until elastic, moist, and velvety.
First Rise: Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Shaping and Second Rise: Shape the dough on a floured surface into 1 large or 2 smaller round loaves by rolling the dough first into a taut log, then shaping it into a round loaf. The dough will be slightly sticky; sprinkle the dough and the work surface with flour while shaping it. Place each loaf on a peel sprinkled with cornmeal, cover with a slightly dampened towel, and let rise until doubled, about 50 minutes.
Baking: Thirty minutes before baking, heat the oven with baking stones in it to 425F. Just before baking, cut an even slash around the shoulder of the loaf or 3 slashes across the top with a razor. Sprinkle the stones with cornmeal and slide the loaves onto the stones. bake, spraying 3 times with water in the first 10 minutes, for 45 minutes. Cool on racks.
I was surprised how much I liked this bread. Great crust–be sure to spray with water three times in the first ten minutes in the oven. Was super skeptical when I read over the list of ingredients, but amazingly, the odds and ends all blend into a rich and flavorful loaf. One bite tastes like several courses of an exquisite Italian meal. While eating, be sure to completely forget I said anything about teratomas. I just saw one the other day and it scarred me. Yeesh. Molars and hair tucked inside an ovarian tumor. Yeesh. Say a blessing over thine gonads while kneading.