Italian Knot Bread
Ilva of Lucullian Delights is this month's host of the Bread Baking Babes and has selected her adapted version of Italian knot bread. I made a half batch of the recipe substituting bread flour (type 550, as it's called here) for the 00 flour. It was the first time I used a biga and I think it greatly helps the crumb of the bread which was light and airy. My knots rose quite readily and almost turned into buns. As I baked them in two batches of six, the second batch got an additional half hour of rising time. You can still see the two ends which were tucked under the loop in the second picture (Ok, you need to squint. A lot. ;) ) . The knots are best on the day they are made and I ate some with a drizzling of chestnut honey straight away. With some toasting the knots can still be enjoyed for two or three days more. I have three left, which are now a week old and I want to let them dry out completely to make my own bread crumbs as the ones bought at the store for the apple strudel were a bit to saw-dust like.
PANE DI PASTA TENERA CONDITA or ITALIAN KNOT BREAD
500 g /1,1 lb normal bread flour
5 g/0,17 oz fresh yeast
240 ml/1 cup water (I usually need a little more)
- Dissolve the yeast in a little water and quickly work the dough together.
- Put it in a high container, cover itwith a half closed lid or a kitchen towel and leave it for 15-24 hours.
0,500 g/1,1 lb biga
1 kg/ 2,2 lb 00 flour
450-550 ml/ 1,9-2,3 cup water, finger warm
30 g fresh yeast (this is what I found: 18 grams of fresh yeast = 7-10 grams of active dry yeast = about 4-6 grams of instant yeast, I don't dare calculate it right now)
50 g/ 1,7 oz extra-virgin olive oil
60 g/ 2,1 oz lard
25 g/ 0,88 oz honey
25 g/ 0,88 oz salt
- Put the flour either in a big bowl or on a baking board, add the lard and mix it with your fingers until it has 'crumbled' and is completely mixed with the flour.
- Dissolve the yeast in little tepid water and add it to the flour.Mix as well as you can.
- Mix salt, olive oil and honey with the finger warm water and add it to the flour. Now work it it until it holds together and then add the biga.
- Work the dough until it is smooth and doesn't stick. I do it by hand and then it takes between 5-10 minutes.
- Put it into a big bowl, cover it with plastic film and leave to rise until it has doubled.
- Now take up the dough and divide it into smaller parts, about 100 g/3,5 oz each, and roll them it into long snakes (sorry can't remember the proper term) about 25 cm/9,8 in long but you can do them smaller if you want, no need the follow these indications religiously!
[Please go to Ilva's blog for some pictures of how to do the knots.]
- Put the knots on baking sheets and leave to rise until they have doubled in size.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven (200°C/390°F) for 30-35 minutes. As always it is useful to check the bread and to use your common baking sense!