Weekend recipe - Italian bread

I made Italian bread, I think for the first time, this past weekend.  From Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice."  It's a biga-based recipe.  It turned out fairly well, even though I could not use my current steam trapper because the loaves were too big.  I did alter the process a bit due to past experience working with a biga and the trouble I have mixing in a biga after everything is alerady mixed together.


11.25 ounces  Bread Flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
8 ounces Water

Mix.  Knead.

Oil a bowl.  Transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover the dough with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 2-4 hours.  Degas slightly.  Put back in bowl.  Recover.  Chill overnight.

Main Dough:

All of the Biga
11.25 ounces Bread flour
1-2/3 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces water


Remove the biga from the fridge, cut into 10 pieces, let them come to room temperature.

Mix the biga, water and olive oil together.  Add the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.  Mix until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.

Knead for about 10 minutes.

Bulk ferment for about 2 hours

Divide the dough into two pieces.  Do an initial shaping of the loaves, degassing as little as possible.  Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.

Do a final shaping, cover and proof until about 1-1/2 times the original size.

Prepare the oven for hearth baking.  Preheat to 500 F.

Score the loaves, mist them and bake for about 20 minutes.

Cool for about 1 hours.