from the cookbook, The Bread Baker's Apprentice
3 1/2 cup (18 ounces) biga
2 1/2 cup (11.25 ounces) unbleached bread flour
1 2/3 teaspoons (.41 ounce) salt
1 tablespoon (.5 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
1 teaspoon (.17 ounce) diastatic barley malt powder or barley malt syrup (optional)
1 tablespoon (.5 ounce) olive oil, vegetable oil, or shortening
3/4 cup to 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (or milk if making torpedo rolls), lukewarm (90 to 100 F)
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
- Remove biga from refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough and cut it into 10 small pieces with a pastry scraper or serrated knife. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour to take off the chill.
- Stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and malt powder in a bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the biga pieces, olive oil, and 3/4 cup water or milk and stir together until a dough forms, adjusting the water or flour according to need. The dough should be slightly sticky and soft, but not batterlike or very sticky. If the dough feels tough and stiff, add more water to soften (it is better to have the dough too soft than too stiff at this point.)
- Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing on medium speed with the dough hook). Knead for about 10 minutes, adding flour as needed until the dough is tackym, but not sticky, and supple. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 F. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Ferment at room temp for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
- Gently divide the dough in 2 equal pieces of about 18 ounces each or into 9 pieces of about 4 ounces each. Carefully form the pieces into batards degassing the dough as little possible. Lightly dust with a sprinkle of flour, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Then complete the shaping, extending the loaves to about 12 inches in length or shaping the torpedos rolls. Line a sheet pan with parchment and dust with semolina flour or cornmeal. Place the loaves on the pan and lightly mist with spray oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
- Proof at room temp for about 1 hour, or until the rolls have grown to about 1 1/2 times their original size.
- Preheat oven to 500F. Score the breads with 2 parallel, diagonal slashes or 1 long slash.
- Rolls can be baked directly on the sheet pan. For loaves, transfer to a pizza peel and gently onto hot baking stone. Pour 1 cup hot water into steam pan and close the door. After 30 seconds, spray the walls of the oven with water and close the door. Repeat once more after another 30 seconds. After the final spray, lower the oven setting to 450F and bake until done, rotating 180 degrees, if necessary, for even baking. It should take about 20 minutes for loaves and 15 minutes for rolls. The loaves and rolls should be golden brown and register at least 200F at the center.
- Transfer the rolls to a cooling rack and cool for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.
The dough after the first fermentation
Divided into 9 pieces
Shape into batards
Set onto baking sheet
Bake and cool