More baking – Rustic Italian Bread with bruschetta

I seem to be on a morning baking and food prep kick. Probably has to do with the fact that it’s something Katherine enjoys and takes care of supper all at once, leaving me free to work during the afternoon and evening.

Yesterday’s creations were Rustic Italian Bread and Tomato-Zucchini Bruschetta. Recipes below….

Rustic Italian Bread

Cooling

1.5 tsp sugar

2 cups warm water

2 tsp yeast

2 tbsp olive oil

4 to 4.5 cups unbleached white flour

1.5 tsp salt

It’s pretty simple, really. Put the water in a bowl. Stir in the sugar. Sprinkle on the yeast. Wait ten minutes until frothy. Add the oil. Stir. Add flour and salt. Stir.

I did the above in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid, which let me leave things in that same bowl for the kneading. You can knead by hand for 15 or by mixer for 10. If kneading by hand, the dough will be sticky, so you have to pull and slap it more than traditionally kneading.

After the kneading, form the dough into a ball and put into another bowl. The bowl should be greased. When you put the dough in, turn it over a couple of times so that it’s slimy. Cover with saran wrap or a bag and let rise for 1.5 hours.

Take out of bowl. Don’t punch. Divide in two. Form two balls. Pinch seams shut. Place each lump seam side up in a bowl or basket lined with a towel dusted THOROUGHLY with flour. The bowl will need to be about an eight cup container. Cover with another towel and let rise for another 1.5 hours.

Dust a baking sheet with flour. Preheat the oven to 450F. Turn each loaf out onto the sheet. This is tricky. Do your best. Make a few slashes in the tops. Shove in over for 10 minutes. Reduce heat and continue baking for another 20 minutes or so. Check loaves when golden to see of they make a hollow sound when the bottoms are thumped. Let cool somewhat before eating. (original credit goes to Canadian Living for this)

Suggested modifications:

  • use partially (or all) multi-grain flour – in Canada, the Robin Hood variety can be used for 100% substitution
  • make one large loaf and bake a bit longer (final rise needs a big bowl!)
  • instead of dusting the baking sheet and flipping the bead, dust the bread and place the baking sheet on top, then flip the whole works at once.

Tomato -Zucchini Bruschetta

1.5 litres tomatoes, finely diced

2 cups zucchini, finely diced

1/2 c balsamic vinegar

full head of garlic

2 tsp basil (fresh, if you have it, but dried will do)

Parmesan to taste
1 red onion

1/4 c olive oil

Dice everything very finely, including the whole head of garlic. Put onion, tomatoes and zucchini into a shallow baking dish. Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil and garlic in a small bowl or dump into a jar and shake vigorously. Pour over the veggies. Put in fridge and leave for at least ten hours. Overnight is better. You can mix in Parmesan if you like, or reserve it for the final stage.
To serve, spoon onto thinly-sliced bread and toast in the over, topped with Parmesan.

Suggestions:

  • use whatever veggies you have on hand that would go well. Some folks like celery, hot peppers, eggplant, or whathaveyou.
  • crappy Parmesan (the stuff that comes in the plastic jars) can be mixed in and actually seems to work here
  • freeze in small portions for winter delight
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