Recipe for Pane Casereccio, or Housewife’s Bread

Julian Cole’s Pane Casereccio, or Housewife’s Bread

Julian Cole’s Pane Casereccio, or Housewife’s Bread

First published in Food & Drink

JULIAN COLE tries making Pane Casereccio, a no-knead bread recipe

WHETHER or not to knead bread, and for how long, remains a contestable topic among bakers. Popular baker Dan Lepard has been suggesting repeated ten-second kneads for a while.

Suzanne Dunaway, a noted American baker, makes her position clear with the title of her new book, No Need To Knead (Grub Street, £18.99 – out on Thursday). Her recipes were developed over years of trial and error. They are a little challenging, but they do work (as do Dan’s).

I have tried a few and may return to the toasted hazelnut and sage stick, but offer here Suzanne’s recipe for an Italian bread also known as Housewife’s Bread, clearly a very non-PC sort of bread. The main characteristic of her recipes is that the dough remains quite wet. The slow rise gives much more flavour.

The subtitle on this great new book reads: “Homemade artisan breads in 90 minutes”. This is perhaps misleading as many, including this one, are spread over two days.

Makes two loaves:

To make the ‘biga’ or starter:

Teaspoon fast-action yeast; 240ml lukewarm water, 65g wholemeal bread flour, 130g strong white flour, 45g of wholemeal rye flour.

Mix everything together in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave overnight at room temperature.

Bread ingredients:

480ml lukewarm water, 625g strong white flour, two teaspoons salt, wholemeal flour for dusting the loaves.

Method:

In the morning, mix the biga with all the other ingredients, using oiled hands to fold the dough over itself a few times. Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for five or six hours (or even overnight again).

Two hours before baking, remove bowl from the fridge and leave dough to rise again.

Dust two baking sheets with flour and carefully tip the dough on to one of the trays. It will be sticky. Cut in half carefully with dough scraper/big scissors and, using floured hands, shape into long and flattish loaves.

Cover and leave for 30 minutes. Ten minutes before cooking, heat oven to highest temperature, then reduce to 200C when ready to cook. Cook bread for about 40 minutes, remove from oven, take loaves off the trays then put them back on the oven shelves for five minutes. Cool on wire racks.

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