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    Sfilatino Bread a la Franco Galli — An Italian Baguette

    This recipe for Sfilatino bread is from Franco Galli’s “The Il Fornaio Baking Book.” I really like this book, but sometimes it’s a real challenge. Galli uses cup measurements and what he says in the recipes is sometimes a little difficult to square with the dough that results. Still, what you can do with these recipes and the philosophy embodied in them makes the effort worthwhile. This recipe illustrates the confusion perfectly, but stick with it, it’s worth it.

    Some people believe this is the Italian answer to the French baguette. Some people say this is better than a French baguette. I’ve been making both for a long time and I can honestly say it’ll take me a lot longer to declare a preference. Pass the butter or extra virgin olive oil, please.

    His biga recipe is different from most others in that he specifies a 100% biga. He states in his appendix that a cup of flour is 4 ounces / 114 grams. He gives the flour as 3 1/2 cups, which is 14 ounces / 400 grams by his standard.

    Here is the biga I used for this recipe. It makes 100 grams of biga, about 4 ounces.

    Biga

    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Bread Flour 2 50
    Warm Water 2 50
    Dry Yeast 1/8 tsp 1

    This gives a biga of 100% hydration, while most biga recipes seem to be in the 60% range.
    In other words, this is the hydration of a poolish.

    The directions say to dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let it sit for 15 minutes.
    Then mix the rest of the ingredients well, cover tightly and put directly in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

    The main portion of the recipe calls for 3 cups of flour, which is 12 ounces / 340 grams. Here is the whole ingredient list.

    Total Ingredient List

    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Bread Flour 12 340
    Warm Water 4 115
    Dry Yeast 1 tsp 5 ml
    Cool Water 5 145
    Salt 1 rounded tsp 6 ml
    Biga 4 100

    The resulting dough will consist of the small amount of biga at 100% plus the remainder of the ingredients at
    310 / 390 = 78%. This is a very wet dough. He claims that it will yield 3 7-ounce loaves, or 21 ounces of bread,
    and the totals of the ingredients are not far off this total. However, he also says that this bread came about as a response to the French baguette, which is around 60%. The differences may be a result of Italian bakers working at higher hydrations than French bakers. This is something that I’ve noticed, but it may be a coincidence. I’ve made this bread at the recipe totals and found that it’s very difficult to handle, certainly more difficult than he lets on in the instructions. My second and subsequent attempts have been at a dough in the mid- to high 60s, usually around 65-67%. This seems to work well, although it’s still not a very easy dough to handle. This, however, is the bread made according to the original recipe using his conversion. There is another version made to 65-67% that I have posted next to this one. Compare them and decide which is for you. Maybe you’ll decide to make them both and compare them. Both recipes make good bread, they’re just different.

    One other think to note, there is very little final rise, so start the oven heating when you start to shape the loaves.

    Method

    1. Make the biga the night before and place it immediately in the refrigerator to develop overnight.
    2. The next day, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let sit 15 minutes, until creamy.
    3. Place biga, yeast water, the rest of the water and flour in the bowl of a mixer. Mix for a minute or two, until the dough begins to come together.
    4. Let the dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes.
    5. Add the salt and knead for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is fully mixed and smooth.
    6. Cover the dough and let it develop for 1 1/2 hours. It should double.
    7. Fold the dough, or just drop the dough hook into the bowl and mix the dough for 5-10 seconds.
    8. Cover the dough and let it develop for another hour.
    9. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into three equal pieces.
    10. Working with the first piece of dough, press out most of the air and form the dough into a rectangle 3X4 inches / 75X100 mm.
    11. Fold the top down 1 inch / 25 mm.
    12. Roll the dough up as you would a cloth napkin.
    13. Press the edge sealed and taper the ends.
    14. Repeat with the other two pieces of dough. These should be 6 inches long.
    15. Heat the oven to 425 F / 220C. Place a stone or tiles in the oven.
    16. Turn each piece so that the seam is down and let rise, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
    17. Grasp one dough and gently stretch it until it is 15 inches / 38 cm long. Let the dough rest for a few minutes so it will relax and hold its length. You may have to restretch it once or twice.
    18. Place the dough on parchment paper.
    19. Repeat with the other two doughs.
    20. Let the doughs rise for 15 minutes.
    21. Mist the oven with water. Slash the loaves in 4 or 5 places. Spray the loaves with water.
    22. Place the loaves in the oven and mist the oven.
    23. Mist the oven after 5 minutes, then bake for another 20 to 25 minutes (total 25-30 minutes), but check after 20 minutes total time.
    24. Remove from the oven and place on a rack.

    Here we go:

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    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread the biga out of the refrigerator. 
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread total weight is 194 grams.
     
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread divided into two  portions.   
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread sheet showing the calculations.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread water, yeast, biga and flour.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread starting to mix the dough.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread after 1 minute of mixing.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread after 2 minutes of mixing.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread into the bowl for the autolyse.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread back into the mixer, add the salt.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread dough almost clearing the sides of the bowl.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread begining the first fermentation.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread after 1 1/2 hours of fermentation.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread after folding in the bowl; couldn't fold on the bench.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread after 2 1/2 hours fermentation.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread lightly-floured work surface.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread measuring out three equal amounts.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread pat out a portion to 3X4 inches / 75X100 mm.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread first fold-down.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread fully formed, edge sealed properly.
      Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread three formed, ready to rise for 20 min.  
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread after 29 min, streatch to 15 inches / 38 cm, then rest 15 min.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread spray, then into 425F / 220C oven.
     
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread baguettes out of oven.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread view of the crumb.
      
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread more crumb.
    Sfilatino artisan artisanal italian bread still more crumb.




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