I was quite pleased with the results from this next BBA Challenge bread. I wasn’t sure if it would turn out as a proper Pugliese or some other vaguely rustic bread, as I’ve had trouble in the past getting intended results on these Italian BBA breads. (They make perfectly fine eating, regardless, but they were just not exactly ciabatta, foccaccia, or what not).
I first defrosted the biga remianing from my Potato Rosemary bread. Overnight in the freezer worked just fine (and I literally mean overnight–I put it in the fridge about 8pm and it was ready to go at 7am the next day).
As I have a healthy supply of semolina (which is not the freshest, but far from the expiry date) I opted to make a 100% durum loaf, rather than mixed with bread flour. PR notes that the more semolina flour used, the more water you will need to add. Perhaps this finally made me vigilant enough during the kneading process to ensure the dough was sticky enough, but I think I got it. Given that I usually knead with my kichenaid stand mixer, it’s easy to flip it on and forget it until the timer rings 8 minutes later. As experienced breadmakers know, dough can change radically during the kneading process, and what looks at first like too wet a dough may turn out to be underhydrated, or vice versa. Several times I left what was surely a very moist dough to turn around and find it clearing the bottom of the bowl rather than adhering (which is fine for certain breads, but not for pugliese, which is meant to stick at the bottom).
I think I got it right: the dough fresh out of the stand mixer is soft and slack, the latter quality which is certainly visible in this photo.
After stretching and folding up like an envelope:
I (again) reread the instructions on how to shape the loaves into boules. I’m not sure if I read carefully enough for once or just that practice is finally starting to have an effect, but I think I managed to do a pretty good job this time.
I also managed to improvise the “banneton” per PR’s instructions–my kitchen towels, used as liners, made for a bright and cheery picture.
And even better, they actually peeled off the dough with great ease. (The last time I tried this it was a mess so I didn’t have high hopes).
Breads scored, ready for the oven. Notice the trapped bubble of air on the loaf further back.
And baked. Result? Very good. It’s just another variation on an artisan-style white bread, but I think the use of 100% durum wheat made for a more complex flavor as well as giving the loaves a ruddy-complexioned crust and a slightly golden interior that aesthetically was just as pleasing to me as the flavor.