Tuesday, January 26, 2010

BBA Challenge #29: Pugliese

I never did get to say good-bye to 2009, particularly since we were flying when the time changed over. We had no party on the plane, drinks were not handed out, and the pilot barely announced "Ladies and Gentlemen, it is now 12:06 in Frankfurt" as we speeded over the Atlantic. When we landed, all of our suitcases were with us, and after two layovers, we were completely beat. Still, we attempted our best to stay up despite sleeping only three hours on the plane and three the night before the flight.

On January First, after two weeks of mostly cold weather in California and Nevada, we landed to a winter paradise in Berlin. Snow, white and resplendent. Snow that hadn't been seen here for two years covered the city. The city was covered in clouds that made cast everything blue, and riding home in the taxi, I was happy to be home.

The very first things I unpacked were the bottles. Hennepin is my second favorite beer (after Saison Dupont), and I brought back one bottle of that, one bottle of Ommegang Abbey ale from the same brewery, one bottle of the Stone Brewing Company XI Anniversary Ale, which was the inspiration for their

The last bottle I opened is the most special. Hitachino Nest is the only Japanese Beer imported into the US from Japan. Put down your bottles, Asahi and Kirin are probably brewed in Canady in order to allow them to put "Imported" on the label. In addition, they brew interesting ales, in comparison to the light lagers that most world breweries make.

This is their classic ale- a plain pale ale aged in cedar casks. It is amazing. Amazing like only really special beers are. Amazing in the way Matilda from Goose Island or Trappistes Rochefort 10 are. Amazing in the way you think you've discovered a secret that no one else knows.

Unfortunately, the sore throat that I had been cultivating for most of the vacation decided to go at me with full force, and that night I fell into a deep slumber filled with the strangest dreams I have ever encountered. I had actually wanted to start bread the day after we landed, but, it took until the third of January. With barely enough strength, I took out the flour and began to measure.

As with all baking, there must always be something that goes wrong. In my case, it was a small mistake. I had made the full suggested amount of biga pre-ferment for this dough, figuring I'd keep the left over for pizza or ciabatta or something. I measured out the Semolina flour. Oops. I was going to use a 50/50 mix of semolina and flour, but measured out the whole thing in semolina. No matter, I thought. I measured out an equal amount of Type 812 flour. I'll just make the mise en place, I figured, and then just use half of it in the recipe after I photograph it.

Did you follow? Yes, no? Basically, I measured out twice the amount of flour. Tossed the entire thing into the mixer and... Yes. The dough was too dry and here I am trying to figure out why.

I forgot to only add half the flour. I thought about tossing the dough and starting over for less than the split second it took me to add the rest of the biga, measure out more water, yeast and salt, and throw it all into the mixer, thumbs pressed. (You press your thumbs here instead of crossing your fingers, though, really, I just cross my fingers and say I'm pressing my thumbs.)

I know, you are all calling foul for not having a mixer picture that you can all drool over. I'm sorry. I wasn't feeling too good, and just sort of decided not to take too many photos.

But, hey, the bread came out great, no? A little- no, a lot pale in color, unlike Kelly's deliciously golden loaf and rolls.

There is a very special place in my heart that is now reserved for Italian Breads. First the Casatiello, then the Ciabatta, then the eponymous Italian Bread, the surprisingly excellent Pane Sicilano, and now the Pugliese.

Without Peter Reinhart and the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge, I probably never would have baked any of these breads. I probably would have stuck to the French Breads. Hey, I hear the Miche is coming up.

Other Pugliesers are:

Mags from The Other Side of Fifty

Angela from Gourmet Hotdish and Other Culinary Disasters

Carolyn from Two Skinny Jenkins

Janice from Round the Table


  1. I'm glad that it all worked out for you, must have been the thumb pressing.

  2. Just gorgeous! Now you're making me wish I was baking this tomorrow instead of the potato rosemary. I've loved all the Italian breads we've made so far, too. (Well, except my disastrous ciabatta.) Congrats on another beautiful one!

  3. I'm also impressed with the Italian breads in the book and love most of them, except for Panettone.

    You did a good job saving the recipe and producing nice loaves. I can't wait for your miche post.:-)

  4. This bread looks really good! And I'm jealous because you have round brotforms. I just have long ones, but think of getting round ones, too. I liked my Pugliese, too.