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 bread, now gaining recognition in the rest of Italy, and throughout the world. Today you can find Pugliese in bakeries and supermarkets throughout Italy.
Pugliese bread 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 rustic Italian bread recipe calls for a Biga, and Italian pre-ferment, which gives the bread a better flavor and texture. You can also make a Pugliese in a single day, using all of the ingredients.
2 cups Biga
2 ¼ cups bread flour or white whole wheat flour (or a combination of the two)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 tsp yeast
1 ¼ cups water
Remove the Biga from the refrigerator 1 hour before you need it.
Mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon or in a 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 rustic Italian bread recipe for Biga Pugliese (Bread Starter from Puglia) serves/makes 1 loaf
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