Puglia, or Apulia as it is called in English, is Italy's boot heel, its southeastern most region. Apulia produces one-tenth of the wine drunk in Europe and its olive oil is well regarded. Bari COP in particular is excellent. Puglia is also the breadbasket of Italy, and home to the wonderful Pugliese hearth bread, now gaining recognition in the rest of Italy, and throughout the world. Today you can find Pugliese in bakeries and supermarkets throughout Italy.
The Pugliese is characterized by a moist dough which results in large holes in a well structured crumb, and a well-developed, crunchy crust. Heavier than a Ciabatta, and made with a higher gluten flour, the Pugliese is typically shaped as a Batard (oval), and slashed with a single cut running lengthwise.
Our recipe calls for a Biga, and Italian pre-ferment, which gives the bread better flavor and texture. You can also make a Pugliese in a single day, using all of the ingredients.
2 cups Biga
2 1/4 cups bread flour or white whole wheat flour (or a combination of the two)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups water
Remove the Biga from the refrigerator 1 hour before you need it.
Mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon or in s stand mixer for 3 or 4 minutes.The dough will be very sticky and should just pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl. The moister the dough, the better the final bread will be.
Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise at cool room temperature for anywhere between 6 and 24 hours. The starter will triple in volume and then collapse a bit. It will also be wet and very sticky when it is ready to be used. Cover and refrigerate if not using at once. To use the biga, scoop out the needed amount while it is cold.
This recipe for Biga Pugliese (Bread Starter from Puglia) serves/makes 1 loaf
We often see families in restaurants enjoying flatbread topped with olive oil as an appetizer before a traditional Italian meal. Sometimes, after chatting about ovens with a restaurant owner or pizzaiolo, we have been sent a flatbread with compliments -- and to show the pizzaiolo's skill.
By making your own lavash crackers, you can enjoy the pleasure of a salty cracker, with having to worry about the trans-fats that make up virtually every commercial cracker.
Basic Flatbread Dough Recipe
1 1/2 cups water
4 TBS olive oil
4 cups bread flour (read our flour page for more)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dry active yeast
Using a bread machine, add the water and olive oil, then cover the liquid with flour . Add the salt (half each in two corners), then make small well in the middle of the flour and add the yeast. Start the dough cycle, which will last for roughly 90 minutes.
Divide you dough into four round balls, and let rest for an hour.
Toss as you would a pizza, cover with olive oil, a splash of juice from your peeled tomatoes (if you have it), a dash of oregano and perhaps a little salt.
Cook for two minutes.