The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Italian Bread

P1110637 (Large)

Peter Reinhart’s recipe for Italian Bread is soft, super-soft!   I’ve baked this item times before, but it was this baking that stands out as one of my best.  The secret?…. allowing the dough to retard for almost three days,  Try it, you’ll be surprised at the difference an extra day (or two) makes.   Just don’t push it beyond three days unless you are prepared to suffer consequence.  And as I say this, I can’t really tell you why I say it, other than we are told by Peter that it is good up to three days.  Hey, who am I to challenge a master?  Yeah.  That’s right…I am just a flour-dusted woman playing in a singular kitchen. So kids, do as you are told, and follow them thar directions.  

 As I set about planning for the holiday weekend, it was a no-brainer for me to put together bases for three bread bakes.  There was that bit of concern that I had been lagging behind in the challenge that Nicole offers and I’ve committed to (The Bread Baker’s Challenge, , but even more necessary was my need to enjoy the respite of all things, floured.  Baking is therapeutic for me, and bread baking is at the very top of my list of favorite things to make.  (Cookies and cupcakes follow neck-to-neck as my second/third choices.)


The Italian Bread recipe called for a biga.  While some baker’s keep one on hand, I’m guilty of being less prepared since I’ve learned to dry and refrigerate my sourdough starter.  And so, along with the poolish made to create the lovely fruited focaccia, and the pâte fermentée used within the french bread, I found myself mixing a biga.  (I highly recommend building starters in batches, it proves worthy once you’ve been spoiled by a bake.  Invariably you’ll create something and think, “Wow, I’m going to do that again, ASAP!”  You’ll be a bit delayed if you need to retard your starter.  Plan ahead.)


(Forgive the less than stellar lighting and my attempt at infusing additional light upon the subject matter.)

P1110625 (Large)

Note, these babies are a bit dusty, but my heavy-handed flour toss was necessary in order for me to get some sort of grip on my dough.  I’ve got to work on that pinching too, as you can see, both loaves are definitely, free-form.  ;)

And, while I’m admitting to other items I’ve overlooked in the past, let me add this item:

I’ve owned my copy of, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice , (

for almost two years now, but somehow I’ve managed ‘to forget’ that Peter gives us details about what a scored loaf can denote.  He states:


“In some instances the cuts are distinctive to a

particular village or baker.”


Interesting tidbit.  Makes me want to come up with very own little trademark.  ;)


P1110633 (Large)  


Happy Bakes 2U2!

~ by coffeegrounded on September 7, 2009.

2 Responses to “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Italian Bread”

  1. Loved your post and I too think that the description, “soft as a baby’s bum” fits this bread to a T. I could not agree more with your thoughts of having the biga on hand at all times! I am going to have to get a new refrigerator to store all of this starter and bread in! Bread will only last here (hawaii) about 2 days unless refrigerated. Using some rye flour helps.


  2. Soft as a baby’s bum indeed…LOL!

    Your bread is absolutely gorgeous! And I think I’m going to try the additional time retarding the dough the next time I make this. I can’t imagine it would improve it because I too thought it was soft as a baby’s bum and out of this world delicious as is, but I’m going to take your word that it’ll be even better.

    Of course, I’ll have to come back and hunt you down if it isn’t :)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: