Ohhhh how I love thinking back on my vacations. Travel is expensive, sure, but the memories really last, don’t they? There’s obviously much more to travel than food, but the food is a huge part of the fun!
When Kevin and I went to Florence, he fell in love with the salt-free bread. Though it’s very bland on its own, it tastes really good with extra salty meats and cheeses, or just salted olive oil. Mmmmm…
The problem is (other than not being able to hop on a flight to Italy later today) we can’t seem to find any of this bread at home. I took matters into my own kneady hands. This was my first attempt at bread (not the quick kind – the kind with… gasp… kneading and yeast), and it turned out really well!
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- ¼ cup lukewarm water and 1 and ¼ cup lukewarm water (divided)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
- 1 and ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- Olive oil for greasing
- Proof your yeast by stirring the yeast into ¼ cup warm water. Allow this to activate and almost double in size for 10 minutes.
- After yeast has been activated, combine the yeast mixture with the flour and remaining warm water. Stir and begin mixing with hands. Dust workspace with flour, and knead the dough for about five minutes.
- Place the ball of dough in a large, greased bowl, turning it a few times in the bowl to get some of the oil on the dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow it to sit in a warm place for an hour. Dough will double in size. (I let it sit in my kitchen at 75 degrees half the time and outside in the late afternoon shade half the time 80 degrees.)
- Place parchment over a baking sheet. Deflate the dough and form into a round loaf (traditional), or shape it into a long loaf if you prefer. Place the dough on the parchment and loosely cover with a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap.
- Allow the loaf to sit and rise 35 minutes, and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Remove plastic and slice any decorative lines on the top. Bake loaf for 30 to 35 minutes.
- When the loaf is done, allow it to cool at least 20 minutes prior to slicing. Serve with salty food, such as dipping olive oil with a dusting of sea salt.
My bread was brutto ma buono, “ugly but good.” As stated, the bread is made to be paired with salty foods, and it is therefore quite plain. Some people love it, but others hate it. Hey – I’ll take any excuse to buy some Parmesan and olive tapenade!
We had no trouble finishing this loaf, but if yours starts to get stale, you can always make panzanella with the rest of it. For those of you who are interested in this bit of foodie culture, check out this NY Times article on the topic.
- Ever tried salt-free bread? If so, did you like it?