Home Bread-Bakers v096.n017.1

Saltless Tuscan Bread

Don Jorgensen <donj@u.washington.edu>
Sun, 26 May 1996 21:41:03 -0700 (PDT)
Marie,  If you try this bread, please let us know how it turns out.
I have _The Italian Baker_ checked out of the library, but I haven't
tried out any of the recipes yet.  There is a mostly whole wheat
version of this bread in the same cookbook, and I hope to try that
recipe later this week.     ...Nadia

>From _The Italian Baker_ by Carol Field
_Pane Toscano o Pane Sciocco_, Saltless Tuscan Bread

Some cookbook authors insist a bread made without salt could only be
flat and insipid, but the Tuscans have been making this saltless bread
for many centuries. . .  The big flat rounds scored in tac-tac-toe
patterns or the smaller crusty ovals of bread are sometimes rough and
somewhat coarse, sometimes more compact inside, but they are always
mellow and bland.

One explanation of the saltless bread is that the Tuscans, well known
for being tightfisted, couldn't bear to pay the government salt tax
and chose instead to make bread without it.  Perhaps, but gastronomes
point out that the Tuscan bread is perfectly suited to their cuisine,
which is full of strong flavors. . .

Makes 1 large _ruota_ or wheel, or 2 oval loaves.

1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
About 1-1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Stir the yeast into the water in a small bowl; let stand until creamy,
about 10 minutes.  Add the flour and stir with about 100 strokes of a
wooden spoon, or stir with the paddle of an electric mixer for about 1
minute.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until tripled, 6 hours
to overnight.

1-1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup water, room temperature
3-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch salt (optional)

BY HAND:  Stir the yeast into the warm water in a large bowl; let stand
until creamy, about 10 minutes.  Add the starter and 1 cup water and mix
well, squeezing the starter between your fingers to break it up.  Beat
in the flour, 1 cup at a time, and continue beating until the dough is
thoroughly mixed, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the salt, if desired,
in the last minutes.  Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead,
using a dough scraper to begin with, until elastic, resilient, and some-
what velvety, 8 to 10 minutes.

BY MIXER:  Stir the yeast into the warm water in a small bowl; let stand
until creamy, 10 minutes.  Add the dissolved yeast and 1 cup water to
the starter in a large mixer bowl and mix with the paddle.  Beat in the
flour and continue beating until thoroughly mixed, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add
the salt, if desired, and beat 1 more minute.  Change to the dough hook
and knead until the dough is elastic, resilient, and somewhat velvety,
about 4 minutes.  Finish kneading by hand on a floured surface.

BY PROCESSOR:  If the capacity of your food processor is 7 cups or less,
process this dough in 2 batches.  Refrigerate the starter until cold.
Stir the yeast into the warm water; let stand until creamy, about 10
minutes.  Process the dissolved yeast, cold starter, and 1 cup cold
water with the steel blade to the consistency of lumpy pancake batter.
Pour the mixture into another container and change to the dough blade
without cleaning the bowl.  Add the flour and salt, if desired, to the
bowl and process with 2 or 3 pulses to sift.  With the machine running,
pour the starter mixture through the feed tube as quickly as the flour
can absorb it and process until the dough gathers into a ball.  Process
20 seconds longer to knead.  Don't worry if the dough never truly forms
a ball, but it should hold its shape and not ooze.  Finish kneading by
hand on a lightly floured surface until elastic, resilient, and somewhat

First Rise.  Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap,
and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Shaping and Second Rise.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and
lightly dust the top with flour.  The dough will be very moist and soft,
but don't punch it down.  Flatten it with your hands and shape into
a large flat round loaf, or cut it in half and shape each half into an
oval.  Place on a well-floured baking sheet or peel and gently turn the
loaf over to collect some of the flour onto its surface.  Turn it again,
smooth side up, cover with a towel, and let rise until doubled, 45 minutes
to 1-1/4 hours.

Baking:  Thirty minutes before baking, heat the oven with a baking stone
in it to 450 degrees F.  If you have shaped the dough into a single
large wheel, score a tic-tac-toe pattern on top with a razor or sharp
bread knife.  Just before baking, sprinkle the stone with cornmeal and
slide the loaf into it.  Bake 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 400 degrees
F., and bake 20 minutes for the smaller ovals and 25 to 30 minutes for the
large _ruota._  Cool on a rack.