I took a bread baking class at a virtually unknown cooking school in Saratoga, California, tucked away in a small mall, long gone and forgotten now, with my mother in the 1980s. We learned this Italian whole wheat bread. It is called a traditional pane integrale. Italian breads were becoming very popular with foodies with the publication of Carol Field’s Italian Baker and the Williams-Sonoma backed Il Fornaio bakery, with bakers trained in Italy working here in San Francisco.
We both went home and immediately made it. We had never used the food processor, which was just coming into its own, for bread dough. Bread was made by hand or in the Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I have never seen this recipe any place. It has a short starter sponge, which makes for great texture and flavor.
My mom and I still comment on this bread; it is that good. Even the most timid bread baker can make this. If you want to make the jump to using whole grain flour, try this recipe. It is a great transition loaf with lots of technique. It is one of the best breads I make and it is sooo fast with minimal mess and clean up.
This recipe can be shaped into a round or can also be shaped into two long thin loaves and baked in a baguette frame for 20 to 25 minutes.
Serve this exceptional bread with Marinated Goat Cheese (recipe follows), a recipe that is too good to miss. Make the goat cheese a few days ahead and let them feast on bread and cheese.
Makes 1 round loaf or 2 baguettes
- 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast or 2 teaspoons instant yeast (SAF)
- 2/3 cup warm water (90º to 100º)
- 1 cup cool water (80º)
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Yellow cornmeal, for sprinkling
1. In a 4-quart container, whisk together the yeast and warm water. When the yeast is dissolved, add the cold water and flours. Whisk until smooth. Cover loosely and let stand at room temperature 4 hours to overnight to bubble and ferment.
2. In the work bowl of the food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the sponge, 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, sugar, and salt; process 15 seconds. After the dough forms a soft, elastic ball and clears the sides of the bowl, process 60 seconds more to knead. If the dough is too sticky, add flour by the tablespoonful; if too dry, add water by the teaspoonful.
3. Using a plastic dough scraper, transfer the dough ball to a work surface; give a few kneads by hand to “feel” and even out dough consistency. Place into a lightly greased container, turn once to grease top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature 30 minutes.
4. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface; shape into a tight round. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise again at room temperature until almost triple in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Alternately, place the dough rectangle and shape into a long thin loaf, seam side down into a cornmeal dusted baguette pan. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450º, placing a baking stone on the lower third shelf.
5. Using a sharp knife, slash the surface once down the center, no deeper than 1/2 inch. With the quick action of the wrist, slide the loaf onto the baking stone, or place the baking sheet directly on the stone. The baguette pan can go right on the rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 425º. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and the top sounds hollow when tapped. The loaf will not be very dark brown due to the wheat flour and small amount of sugar.
Cool on a rack at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving spread with hot goat cheese, dipping slices into the warm olive oil.
Baked Marinated Goat Cheese
This is one of those amazing little recipes. Once you are turned onto those logs of soft, snowy white French goat cheese, you will want to know this recipe. This is the perfect hors d’oeuvre to tote along. Just add a cute spreading knife and you’ve got a crowd-pleasing hors d’oeuvre in just a few minutes.
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried savory leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 11 ounces French Montrachet or domestic chabis log
- 1/2 cup good Italian olive oil
1. Mix the herbs and pepper together and press into the surface of the cheese log, covering the entire surface. Place in a plastic container and pour the olive oil over the cheese. Cover tightly and refrigerate 5 days to 1 week to meld flavors.
2. To serve, Remove the log from the oil and slice into 6 equal pieces. Place in a small shallow gratin dish. Cover with the oil. Bake in a preheated 400º oven for 5 to 8 minutes, or until just hot. Serve immediately out of the baking dish.
Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2012
Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.