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    Altamura Bread

    Altamura breadis an artisan bread from the very south of Italy, near the heel of the boot. It is famous in Italy as one of the finest and oldest types of bread in the country and is a protected name within the European Union. I developed this recipe from one in the Il Fornaio Baking Book, by Franco Galli. Just looking at the list of ingredients and the proportions will give most bakers a serious case of the “It’ll-Never-Works.” However, the semolina and the biga work with the flour to yield a dough that, while sticky, isn’t tenaciously so. In other words, it works.

    Recipe 

    Biga

    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Bread Flour 1 1/2 40
    Water 7/8 25
    Dry Yeast pinch  

     Dough 

    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Biga 1/4 Cup 65
    Warm Water 4 115
    Bread Flour 6 170
    Semolina 5.5 155
    Dry Yeast 1 tsp 5 ml
    Salt 1.25 tsp 9
    Cool Water 4 115
    Ex Vg Olive Oil 1 Tbsp 15

    These amounts are close to, but different from, the ones listed in the book. He had originally specified that you should make about a pound of biga, but since we need only a bit for our recipe, I cut it down considerably.

    Method

    1. Mix all ingredients together, knead the dough by hand for 20 minutes, on a lightly floured surface. Let the dough rest for 1 or 2 minutes several times during kneading. You can use a large stand mixer to mix the dough. In this case, mix for 6 minutes.
    2. Rub a large bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover and let the dough rise for 1 hour. Fold the dough. Let rise for 45 minutes.
    3. Shape the dough into a ball, but do not overwork the dough. See Shaping a Boule
    4. Spread a thick layer of flour on the counter, place the ball of dough in it, rough side down, and let it rise, covered for 50-60 minutes.
    5. Slash the dough in 5 places, 1/2 inch / 12 mm deep and 2 1/2 inches / 65 cm long.
    6. Bake at 425 F / 220 C with steam for 40-50 minutes.

    Here We Go! 

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    Ingredients for Altamura Bread Altamura Bread dough after one minute mixing Altamura Bread dough after 3 minutes mixing Altamura Bread dough finished, clearing sides of bowl
    Altamura Bread dough on counter, ready to ferment Altamura Bread dough, in bowl to ferment Altamura Bread dough, ready to fold Altamura Bread dough after first folding
    Altamura Bread dough after 1 3/4 hours fermentation Altamura Bread dough shaped and rising Altamura Bread dough finished rising Altamura Bread dough after slashing
    Altamura Bread halfway baked Altamura Bread fully baked - 45 minutes Altamura Bread cooling on the rack Altamura Bread, shot of bottom of loaf
    Altamura Bread, picture of crumb