Jay's Italian Bread Recipe
• 2 1/4 cups warm water
• 1 1/2 cups biga (a dense sour dough made with 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon yeast, 3 cups flour and left to rise 18 to 24 hours)
• 1 teaspoon yeast
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 6 to 7 cups unbleached white flour
• 1 tablespoon salt Bake at 425 degrees for 35 minutes.
Mix all ingredients together in the order given. Add salt between 5th and 6th cups of flour. Cover and let rise double. Punch down.
Separate into three balls, each about 1 pound. Let rest half an hour, covered. Form into long loaves.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Let rise an hour, covered, on a baking sheet or stone coated with cornmeal. Slash 4 to 5 diagonal cuts into the loaves with sharp knife. Let rest 10 minutes.
Bake at 425 degrees for 35 minutes.
My daily bread
Kitchen becomes sanctuary for baker
I am a baker. It took me 30 years to put it in those words. I used to say that I baked bread as one of several avocations that include birding and bicycling. I started baking bread in 1963. You never know how your life will be changed by what appears at the time to be forgettable, chance encounters.
"Bake your own," she countered, offering me a recipe and pan if I would go buy yeast and flour. She said I would find satisfaction in making bread: It would give not only pleasure but also a sense of craftsmanship. I still have the pan and recipe, artifacts of one of the most profound moments in my life.
I gained an appreciation for the art of the ordinary. We have to learn about the greatness of real materials through some channel of appreciation. Such appreciation doesn't seem to come naturally, certainly not in our time. Most of us, for instance, walk by a piece of handmade furniture. We're so used to the mass-produced stuff that fills our lives that we often fail to see really good material when presented with it.
This knowledge brings a humbling awareness. It puts us in our place as partakers in a history that will continue after we are gone and that had length of days before we came along. I am, in short, not the center of the world; I'm part of the process, a cog in the wheel. And it is good.
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