PANE DE CASA & CROSTINI

We were invited for a dinner party last Saturday, and I asked the hostess if I could take some homemade bread. Keep in mind that she had just returned from Paris and would be serving us, her lucky guests, an assortment of cheeses brought straight from the City of Light.  My mind was already set on this great post by Celia with a step-by-step tutorial for making her “pane de casa,” a variation of ciabatta. It seemed like a perfect option for the occasion.  Celia experimented and optimized a recipe that includes semolina flour in the dough with great success!  All I had to do was to follow in her footsteps…  ;-)

CELIA’s PANE DE CASA
(from Celia, Fig Jam and Lime Cordial blog)

500g (3½ cups) bakers/bread flour
500g (3½ cups) fine semolina (durum wheat) flour
7g (1¾ teaspoons) dried/instant yeast (or one sachet)
18g (2¾ teaspoons) fine sea salt
750g (3 cups) fridge cold water
rye flour, for dusting

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, yeast and salt.
Add the cold water, and mix the ingredients together to form a sticky dough. Really squelch the mix through your fingers until evenly combined. Scrape off your hand and cover the bowl with a towel. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Give the dough a quick knead in the mixing bowl – after the short rest time it will have relaxed a little. Just fold it over itself a dozen or so times, and then scrape your hand off again and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to prove until well risen – this might take up to three hours depending on your kitchen conditions. In our kitchen the dough was ready in a little over 2 hours. It should be very airy and full of bubbles, almost fully doubled in size.

Heat the oven to 480 F (220 C). If you are using pizza stones, place them on the racks to heat up, and tear off four sheets of parchment paper. If you do not have pizza stones, line a couple of baking trays with parchment.

Heavily dust the bench and your hands with rye flour, then scrape the dough out gently – be careful not to knock all the air out of it. Fold the top of the dough into the middle, and then fold the bottom over to enclose it, forming a long rectangle. Keep your hands well dusted with rye flour, and use your scraper if necessary to help you handle the dough. Dust the top of the dough with more rye flour, then using your scraper, cut the dough into four roughly equal pieces. Dust your hands again with rye flour. Pick each piece of dough up by the ends, give it a little stretch, and then place it on a sheet of parchment to go onto the pizza stones, or onto the lined baking tray.

Spray the top of each loaf with a little water. Turn the oven down to 425 F (220 C) and put the loaves in to bake for 20 minutes. Then rotate the loaves (if you’re baking on stones, remove the parchment now) or the oven tray, and lower the heat to 350 F (125 C). Bake for a further 15 minutes, or until the loaves are crusty and hollow-sounding when tapped.

To make the crostini:
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of dried herbs of your choice (I used herbes de Provence)

Mix the olive oil with the herbs.  Once the bread is completely cold (or next day), cut it in slices 1/4 inch thick. Brush the oil very lightly on both sides of the bread, and grill each side until nice marks form.  Give each slice a slight turn  after a couple of minutes to produce a crisscross pattern.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  As you can see in the photo, two of my loaves ended up lighter and the crust opened almost as if the bread had been scored (it had not). Those were baked exactly as Celia did, spraying a little water on the surface.  The other loaves were baked under an inverted roasting pan previously filled and empty of hot water to generate steam in the initial 20 minutes of baking.   The difference in the crust was quite amazing!   For this type of bread, I prefer the ones baked uncovered.  Their taste was very similar, and so was their crumb structure.

In theory, crostini is simply a toasted bread and could be made in the oven, but for me nothing beats the taste and texture provided by grilling.  The use of herbs is optional, I made half of our crostini plain, so we could have some flexibility with the different cheeses.

This is a wonderful bread, with a beautiful yellowish tint due to the semolina, that also makes it last longer than regular ciabatta. Even if you are a novice in bread baking, with Celia’s detailed instructions and photos, you’ll be able to bake it without problems.

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting

ONE YEAR AGO: Down-Home Dig-in Chili

TWO YEARS AGO: Cinnamon Rolls

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27 thoughts on “PANE DE CASA & CROSTINI

  1. You always make this sound so easy. I finally got my King Arthur’s sourdough starter. I used it the bread machine, but that didn’t turn out so well. My little one has requested a homemade bread for her birthday – without the bread machine. I’m hoping I can squeeze a practice try in before her big day. I’m totally wishing I could have you come over and help!

  2. Another great bread recipe and the crostini look amazing!

    I think I’ll try this one, it seems a bit tricky with the folding and mixing, but maybe I could do it. You think? ;-)

    • Just go for it!

      thanks for stopping by…. I gotta say I’m having a blast reading your blog, will stop by again this weekend to indulge a little more! ;-)

  3. i have had been making bread on and off for years but i had never really been happy that with the results until recently when i felt i had it in the bag..however i soon realised that that i was only at the kindergarten stage of bread making..after that unfortunate revelation i decided that i wanted to crank things up a bit..around the same time i happened to join ‘blog land’ and i started to came across wonderful bakers..i have felt rather intimidated by the beautiful loaves produced and some of the recipes call for hard to find ingredients but this recipe looks a great starting point for me to try to improve and expand my bread making skills..thanks very much for posting this great recipe..jane

  4. Hi Sally! I’m going to attempt my first sourdough bread this weekend for Miss A. I have a King Arthur’s starter that I’ve been feeding. Hopefully this will turn out for her. I’m so nervous! I do have a question for you though…is it possible to freeze the starter? When we go on vacation, I won’t be able to feed it and thought perhaps I could freeze it. I don’t want to kill it though. Thanks for your help! :)

    • Yes, you can definitely freeze it. Once the starter is all bubbly, simply place little tablespoons of it on a tray lined with parchment paper, and freeze it. It is easier if you make your starter more on the dense side, say 75% hydration.

      The little balls of starter, once frozen solid, can be placed in a ziplock bag with the date, and you are all set. When you are back from your trip, remove one of the balls, place it in room temperature water with a little flour as you would do for you starter feeding, and it will come back to life, taking just a little longer than a refrigerated starter.

      Frozen like this, they will last 6 months, if you need to discard them, make a new batch of balls (ping pong size, or a little smaller)

      I actually still have one of my starters sleeping in the freezer since December, gotta wake him up!

      Good luck, and drop me an email if you have troubles as you make the bread this weekend!

      • Oh wonderful! Thank you! So when I’m ready to take the starter out of the freezer, I just use one of the little balls? Or do I need to take them all out again at the same time?

        I’m making King Arthur’s Extra-Tangy Sourdough recipe. So far so good. I’m going to let it refrigerate overnight. I’ll definitely let you know if I have any questions. :) I feel more comfortable (somewhat – LOL) doing this knowing I have you in my corner if I need any help.

  5. Yes, just take one of the small balls at a time. It won’t hurt if you take two, but there’s no need. For a 2 inch size ball, I would add 1 cup of water to dissolve it completely, then add flour to feed it.

    Some folks dry the starter by smearing it on a parchment paper, but I find it a lot easier to just freeze it.

  6. I am making a sourdough today too – my kitchen is at exactly 78F, and that’s where my baby is rising… :-)

    It will be ok – maybe the sourness slightly less than if you proofed at a lower temperature, but no big deal

    I look forward to your results!

    • Thank you Sally! After I added the remaining ingredients to the dough that sat overnight I didn’t see how it was going to work. Then it came together and I actually got teary eyed. LOL. I just hope the end result works too. Enjoy your bread making today!

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