This flavorous country bread comes from the heel of Italy, Apulia. It has tenderness from the olive oil, lots of taste from the biga, and a deep crust into the bargain. Were it made by an Italian farmer’s wife and taken to the village bakehouse to be cooked, it would be proved in a cloth-lined basket and turned out on to a baker’s peel before being slipped on to the floor of the oven. The same technique can be followed at home but manoeuvring this soft loaf on to a peel and slipping it on to a sheet or stone already in the oven is a tricky procedure and many will find it safer to turn it carefully out of the basket on to a warmed and oiled baking sheet. Alternatively, it can be proved directly on the baking sheet. It will spread quite alarmingly, and the final rise will be more subject to draughts and patchy cooling, but the end result is still scrumptious.
© 2005 Tom Jaine. All rights reserved.