Wouldn’t it beautiful to come back from your holiday in Tuscany and, to celebrate your return home, invite your friends to dinner and serve only Tuscan specialties?
It would be like bringing back with you some of the savours and perfumes you could enjoy during your travel and share them with your dearest – and why not, a way to surprise them deeply with great food they do not know.
Whatever specialty you want to offer your guests, there is one basic ingredient of Tuscan cuisine you cannot ignore: bread.
Tuscan bread is strictly unsalted because it is always served with main ingredients and recipes that are very savoury, and it is designed to accompany the meal in the best way – not to steal the show. (But there are some bread recipes, like baked Tuscan vegetable and bread soup, and the Tuscan bread soup.)
As did those of you who already were in Tuscany, those who are going to be here will soon realize that no lunch or dinner in a good, traditional tavern or restaurant is conceivable without the classical Tuscan “antipasto”, or hors d’oeuvre.
Even at home, for the Sunday lunch, or a dinner with friends, the “antipasti” are a must.
The king of “antipasti” is the “bruschetta”, that is the typical bread, toasted, and prepared in two main ways:
They are really delicious!
A classical Tuscan hors d’oeuvre must include a “tagliere” (the traditional chopping board) with select cold cuts and salami, well seasoned and salty Tuscan ham, “soppressata” (a very special sort of cold cuts), and even some wild boar sausages, all accompanied by Tuscan bread in large slices, to enhance this great feast of savours.
Here a classic-but-easy recipe to make the true Tuscan bread at your home. Good work… and enjoy.
To prepare the Tuscan bread according to the old recipes you must first prepare a “biga”, that is a sort of natural baking powder, already ripe, which you will use to have the pat of bread rise.
The “biga” must be prepared the evening before.
For the “biga”:
2 g. brewer’s yeast
100 g. manitoba flour
50 g. water
For the bread:
500 g. 0-type flour
100 g. “biga”
320 g. water
As I said, prepare the “biga” the evening before, melting the yeast in the water and adding it to the flour until you get a good pat. Put it in a glass or pottery bowl, cover it with film, and let it rest for at least 12 hours.
The day after, cut the “biga” into small pieces, dissolve it in the water, then add everything to the flour, mixing it well with your hands until you have formed a smooth ball.
Cover it with a damp cloth and let it rest for about three hours in a warm place.
By this time, your ball must have doubled its size, mix it again and then shape a mass in the form of French bread. Lay it on oven paper or foil, and then on the baking tin you will use to bake, cover again, and let rest again for an hour or an hour and a half.
By this time, your bread must have taken the beautifully swollen form typical of Tuscan bread, cut the surface with a small sharp knife, and put it into the oven, which must be pre-heated at about 220° C. , then bake for fifteen minutes, adding a small bowl of hot water.
At this point, take away the small bowl, lower the oven to 200° C, and bake again for fifteen minutes, then lower again to 180° C, and go on for 20-25 minutes more.
The colour of Tuscan bread must be hazel, very light brown, so check the colour before taking it out of the oven.
Before cutting the bread into slices, wait until it is colder.
Here’s your saltless Tuscan bread, ready for all bread recipes.
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