Friday, November 7, 2008

Tweaking the Tuscan Bread ....

Tuscan Peasants probably tweaked it too. If they got lucky enough to find some fruit or perhaps if they made some sun dried tomatoes. I like to think perhaps they did.....

If the poor guys didn't manage to find any goodies... well, they still had some wonderful bread to eat. This recipe is easy; the bread fairly bland with a wonderful chewy firm I thought why not add some fruit? ...or perhaps some onions and dried tomatoes? ... why not indeed....... so, as usual .... I did. It's so much fun tweaking a recipe that I find easy to use.

I divided the dough into two loaves and shaped them on my parchment lined cookie sheet. The original time was for one large loaf and it said to leave it til it was very brown. (55 minutes) But, with two smaller loaves I tried 40 minutes... as you can see...that is about all it took to make the bottom quite brown and I was worried about the fruit that was exposed... it could probably be covered with some foil to protect it if you want to try leaving it longer... but, I like 30 - 35 minutes. Who needs a really dark loaf? I am sure it was cooked at 30 mins.

doesn't it just look like an old moccasin?.. For some reason I always seem to get a slipper shape...never quite the same on both ends..

BUT.... the taste!! that says it all. What yummy bread.....

and toasted???? MMMMMMMMMMM!!

Tuscan Peasant Bread

2 cups warm water
2 1/2 tsp. rapid rise yeast ( I used Fleischmann's Traditional active dry yeast)
3 1/4 - 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
pinch salt (I used a teaspoon salt)
pinch sugar (a tablespoon honey)

Put the water and yeast in the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment and stir to dissolve.

Add 1 cup of all purpose flour and all the whole wheat flour. Mix on medium for about 1 minute.

Cover bowl and let it sit for about 1 hour at room temperature.

Switch to paddle attachment and beat in salt, sugar and another cup of all purpose flour; stir for about 1 minute. Continue adding flour until dough sticks to the paddle and clears the side of the bowl.

Scrape all dough off paddle and switch it for the dough hook. Knead on low speed for at least 5 minutes. Add more flour if needed. (mine did need a bit more flour, probably due to the honey)

Turn dough out onto floured surface and lightly flour the top. Cover the dough ball with a towel and let it rise for about an hour, until doubled in bulk. This dough is pretty forgiving..don't worry if you are over or under on the time... just take your time and enjoy doing it....

Line a baking sheet with parchment; preheat oven to 425F. Transfer dough to the baking sheet and form into an oblong loaf.

Cover and let rest for another 20 minutes. (I used only 400F and my oven doesn't take 20 mins to I waited 15 mins to preheat) ...

Slash top of loaf with a serrated knife in whatever fashion you prefer. Don't go much deeper than 1/4 of an inch. (I like to dust my top with flour too.... )

Bake for 55 minutes. Don't pull out too early; this bread has a very dark crust.

Remove immediately to cooling rack. Give it a full 2 hours before slicing...
(( yeah, right... hahahha...I slice mine right away.. sure it squishes my loaf..but I have to eat the end of the loaf while it is hot...with butter on it too!)

OPTIONS :::::: try adding some Muesli, chopped nuts, dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots to a loaf. (any or all of the above) It is a bit tricky to get it into the dough without working it a lot. I sprinkle it on a gently flattened chunk of dough..roll it over a bit and then pinch it together and then gently flatten it. While it "rests" for the 20 minutes or so it plumps up a bit again.

Another loaf I added chopped, sauteed onions.. along with some sun dried tomatoes. A great chunk of bread with soup, salad or chili.... again, wonderful toasted.

You will be glad you gave this loaf a try.

oooh.... just look at that tasty plump cranberry....