Italian Tuscan Bread, or Pane Toscano
This is another interesting Italian origin bread recipe, very popular in the central region and in Tuscany. It's used for bruschetta, panzanella, ribollita, but also for charcuterie and tapenade tastings. It must be prepared without salt. This is in order for the taste of the bread not to interfere with (or even change) the taste of the food with which it is served. We liked it a lot, I said I would definitely repeat it many times in the future.
It usually has a round shape, a soft and airy crumb, a slightly denser and crispy crust. It is normally baked on the floor of large wood-fired ovens, but I successfully adapted it to the home cooking conditions. Important - if you want to serve the bread the next day, start in the evening. In all of the Pane Toscano recipes, the yeast has a longer fermentation process, overnight.
Step by step
In a large bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of dry yeast with 500 ml of water. Whisk.
Add 270 g of flour, mix well again.
Cover the bowl with cling film. Poke it in two or three places with a knife, so that the yeast gases can be released during the fermentation process.
Leave the bowl like this at room temperature for 8-9 hours, or overnight, if you start in the evening, to have the bread ready for the next day.
On the next day, the mixture will look like this, which means we can prepare the bread dough now.
Add in here 500 g of flour and mix well with a spoon or spatula.
Pour one tablespoon of olive oil and knead the dough with your hands.
Turn the dough out onto the table and work it until smooth.
Return the dough to the bowl. Cover with a towel and let rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours, or until it grows in volume, 2-3 times.
After this time, knead it once more on the table and shape into a round or oval, depending on what shape you want your bread.
For the proving process, line a bowl with a towel and sprinkle over with a little flour. Place the dough in here, smooth side down. Let rise for two hours covered with a towel, or until it doubles in size.
I chose a round and slightly deeper bowl, to maintain the round shape of the bread while rising.
Preheat the oven at 220 degrees C and place a small tray on the oven floor. We will later fill the tray with water to create steam while baking the bread.
Now carefully turn the bread out onto a baking sheet. Remove the towel.
Score the top with a knife.
Place the bread in the preheated oven and quickly pour half a glass of water into the small tray on the oven floor.
Close the door and leave it like this for 20 minutes. After this time, remove the water tray and reduce the temperature to 200 degrees C. Bake for another 15 minutes.
Bake it longer if necessary. It's important that it browns evenly on all sides. If you turn it over and lightly tap the bottom with your fingers, the bread will sound hollow.
Wrap the hot bread in a towel and let it cool completely before serving.
Slice and serve. It's wonderful thanks to its taste, looks and texture.
(a large loaf)