CHARLOTTE – Sunday meals are a family tradition for many households- no matter the size or nature, breaking bread together is both symbolic and emblematic of both family fellowship and sometimes problem-solving. In our busy world, many of us don’t stop for a moment, until we are at the dinner table. In my home, I have small hands that scale-up stools to watch the mixer go around and to “help”. It’s both a tradition and a learning experience with my kids- I hope that your have the gifts to experience this the way I do…
In any case, there is nothing like the smell of fresh bread baking in your home; the essence of toasting flour, yeast and sugar combines to make an aromatic that makes your close your eyes, tilt your head slightly back and take in a deep breath through your nose. I have several bread recipes, here is one that is best for Sunday, as it takes a bit more love and patience to make this! Enjoy~
Sunday’s Best Italian Slipper Bread (Yields 2-3 large loaves)
Prep Time: 1-2 Hours | From the Oven to the Table: 30-35 Minutes
Sunday’s bread…well you actually start on Thursday night… You need to make the starter, sometimes referred to “Biga”. Making the following will not only make your slipper bread more authentic, it will also add the sourness that makes this unique.
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water, 110 degrees
7/8 cup cool water
2 ¼ Cup cups Bread Flour
1 tsp. Olive Oil
Method- place the ¼ cup of water and yeast and mix together in a medium-size mixing bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes, until you see a creamy and slightly bubbly mix. Stir the remaining water into the yeast mixture, and then stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, sprinkling the flour over the mixture as you stir. Try using a stiff rubber spatula. Get another medium-size bowl and a ¼ sheet of paper towel. Place the oil in the center and rub the entire inner bowl. Place the mixture in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and label the date and time on the plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 12-24 hours- the longer you let it ferment, the sourer it will become, up to 72 hours… A good rule is- if you make it the night before, when you get up, before you leave the house- place the Biga Bowl in the refrigerator.
Italian Slipper Bread-
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
¼ cup milk, warmed
1 ¼ cup water, room temperature
1 tablespoon olive oil
1# Biga Starter- you will have to scoop this out of the bowl
4 ½ cups Bread Flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt
Semolina or Cornmeal
In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, place the milk and yeast in the bowl, stir and let stand for 10 minutes. Next, add the room temperature water, olive oil and biga starter. Mix for 1 minute on low. Now… add the bread flour and salt and mix on low speed for 1 minute and 5 minutes on medium speed. The dough will be sticky once mixed- now dust with flour a clean flat surface, kneed 2, adding a bit flour if needed until it is not as sticky, but should still be springy.
Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a dish cloth in a warm area for about 1 ½ hours.
Once the dough has risen, separate in half or into thirds and rework on a flour dusted surface.
Place a piece of parchment paper down and dust with flour and semolina or cornmeal.
Shape your slipper bread into a large, flat round, or long rectangle and place on dusted parchment paper. Cover with kitchen town and repeat this process for each loaf.
Let rise on the parchment paper for 60-90 minutes.
NOW- preheat your oven, with a baker’s stone on the middle shelf if possible, to 425 degrees.
Sprinkle the top of the loaf with flour and score diagonally with a sharp knife. Using a pizza peel, or taking the parchment and lifting by each corner, carefully place the dough on top of the pizza stone or sheet pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes- if you can carefully remove the parchment paper ½ way through- great!
Let rest for 10 minutes prior to cutting, serve with a rich butter or extra virgin olive oil.
Share meals together, Food is Life, Food is Love!
Chef Glenn is a corporate chef based in Weddington- please send any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org