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Pugliese

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Gentl & Hyers/Edge

Pugliese, ciabatta, and pizza/focaccia are our most popular Italian breads. The dough for pugliese is actually almost identical to that of ciabatta and has close to the same exceptionally high water content, which produces the characteristic large holes in the crumb. The holes are smaller in the pugliese, however, because the dough is strengthened by stretch and folding the dough at intervals during rising. This technique, demonstrated by Peter Reinhart in his book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, is an excellent way of maintaining as much air as possible in the dough while developing the protein structure (gluten) of the dough. It also makes the bread more chewy than the ciabatta. Pugliese was named after Puglia, or the Apulia region of Italy, where it originated, but I have encountered versions of this bread throughout Sicily as well. The Sicilian versions were all made with part durum flour. This flour is the hardest of all wheat varieties and though low in gluten-forming protein, it gives the bread an especially delicious nutty/sweet flavor, pale golden crumb, and exceptionally fine, chewy crust. Much as I usually favor bread and butter, I have to admit that the ideal accompaniment to this particular bread is a light drizzle of Italian extra virgin olive oil.

Time Schedule:

Dough Starter (Biga): minimum 6 hours, maximum 3 days

Minimum Rising Time: about 3 hours

Baking Time: 20 to 25 minutes

Understanding:

Durum flour is finely milled from the endosperm of durum wheat. It is sometimes marketed as “extra-fancy” pasta flour or “farina grade.” Semolina, also from durum wheat, is a much coarser grind and will not work for this bread.

The Dough Percentage:

Flour: 100% (bread: 67%, durum: 33%)

Water: 80.4%

Yeast: 0.79%

Salt: 2.2%

Shaping a Round (Boule):

Begin by gently pressing down the dough into a round patty, dimpling the dough with your fingertips to deflate any large bubbles. Draw up the edges to the center. Pinch them together and turn the dough over so that the pinched part is at the bottom. With cupped hands, stretch the dough down on all sides to form a taught skin, and pinch it again at the bottom.

Transfer the round ball of dough to an unfloured part of the counter and, with your hands on either side of the dough, push it to and fro while rotating it clockwise. You will feel the dough tighten and take on a rounder shape, with taut skin.

A6 ½ -by-3-inch-high round loaf/13 ounces/ 370 grams

Cooking Methodbaking

CostInexpensive

Challenging

Total Timea day or more

Dietary Considerationegg-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Equipmentelectric mixer

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealbreakfast, dinner, lunch

Moodstressed

Taste and Texturechewy, crunchy

Type of Dishbread, yeast bread

Ingredients

  • ½ cup plus ½ tablespoon/ 2.6 ounces/ 75 grams unbleached all purpose flour (use only Gold Medal, King Arthur, or Pillsbury)
  • 1/16 teaspoon/ 0.2 gram instant yeast
  • ½ teaspoon/ 1.6 grams malt powder (optional)
  • ¼ liquid cup/ 2 ounces/ 59 grams water, at room temperature (70°F to 90°F)
  • ½ cup/ 2.5 ounces/ 71 grams unbleached all purpose flour (use only Gold Medal, King Arthur, or Pillsbury)
  • ½ cup (plus four for shaping)/ 2.5 ounces/ 71 grams durum flour
  • ½ teaspoon/ 1.6 grams instant yeast
  • ¾ teaspoon/ 5 grams salt
  • ½ liquid cup/ about 4 ounces/ 118 grams water, a room temperature (70°F to 90°F)
  • Scant ½ cup/ 4.7 ounces/ 134 grams biga, from above
  • A heavy-duty stand mixer with dough hook attachment
  • A half sheet pan line with a nonstick liner such as Silpain or parchment, or sprinkled with flour or cornmeal
  • A baking stone OR baking sheet
  • An 8-inch banneton OR a colander lined with a towel

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