Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pane Rustica, or Summorum Pontificum Bread

We baked 40 loaves of this bread between July 7 and September 14 to celebrate the liberation of the Traditional Latin Mass after nearly 40 years in captivity! This is the most amazing bread you'll ever bake! You don't have to knead it--in fact, you don't even have to touch it (just like the Traditional Latin Mass!). What you get is a crusty, chewy bread with big beautiful pores that can stand up to even the hottest French Onion Soup. Slice it nice and thin with an electric knife and you can make paninis like nobody's business! In the summertime cover thick slices with drizzled olive oil, fresh chopped tomatoes, oregano, s&p for a fresh pizzina to die for! Perfect for Panzanella, French Dipped Sandwiches--perfect for just about anything. Simply perfect, just like the Traditional Latin Mass!
Basically, you let it rise for 20 hours, one hour for each century since Christ instituted the Mass, and then you bake it for 40 minutes, one minute for each year it was eclipsed by a fabricated liturgy.

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 40 minutes plus 20 hours rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 20 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 20 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
HT: My Dad, for tracking this gem down!
Buon Apetito!

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