When life gives you lemons in the form of elbow tendonitis and you are the crafty sort, you have to find other creative outlets. I am not quite back to dyeing yet (soon I hope) and I am trying to get some muscle back. Gotta get myself ready! There is knitting to see (next post?).
Enter one of my all time favorite baking books, The Italian Baker by Carol Field. My copy is well used and well loved.
I have three breads going. Yes, I know that is a bit excessive. Can't help it. I like to jump in with both feet. I did resist the urge to make a chocolate bread. It is so freaking good. Slightly sweet and cocoa-y good. Unbelievable when toasted.
In the upper left, in the jar, is a biga. Biga is an Italian starter, just a pinch of yeast with water and flour. You let it bubble for at least 12 hours so the yeast can multiply. I'll use some of that for an Altamura bread on Monday or so. Altamura is a wonderful, chewy, golden bread made with durum flour (also called semolina). It comes from Puglia, the heel of the boot where durum wheat is widely grown. Durum wheat is best known as the flour for pasta.
The starter on the lower left is for a Roman bread called Crocodile Bread. It takes three days and two starters. I made the first starter last night (day 1), added the second starter today (day 2), and I'll make the bread tomorrow. The long starter time makes for a great texture and a bread that will keep very well. It isn't much more work, just planning ahead.
The dough in the bowl on the right is Caraway Rye. Huh? That doesn't sound Italian! In the Alps in northern Italy there are a lot of Italians that look Germanic. Ever noticed that many of the Italian skiers are blond? This area was once Austria and it is reflected in the people, architecture, and food. The recipe comes from Balzano, a region where street signs are in Italian and German. Borders can be so arbitrary.
The rye bread will be great with the dumplings I'm making for dinner. The are made with grated potato and hartweizengriess (durum flour). Maybe I'll make a quick cooked kraut too. Can't wait!