The Il Fornaio
This is my adaptation of the recipe. I’ve made it dozens of times. Everyone loves it.
- 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (105° degrees F)
- 1/2 teaspoon regular salt
- 1/2 cup cool water
- 1/4 cup biga (click for recipe) at room temperature
- 2 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour (more in humid environments)
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons to 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
- coarse sea salt or coarse Kosher salt
In a small bowl sprinkle yeast over warm water and let stand until dissolved, about 5 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer add flour, and regular salt. Mix for just a few seconds. Add biga, milk, rosemary, yeast mixture and cool water.
Beat with dough hook for 10 minutes or knead by hand for 10 – 20 minutes
Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn over to oil top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. (optionally refrigerate dough for the next day, then continue) Punch down and knead briefly on a lightly floured board to expel air. Repeat rising in oiled bowl until doubled again, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Punch down dough and knead briefly.
On a floured board, shape dough into a smooth football shape. Or shape into 10 rolls. Place on a baker’s peel with a good dusting of cornmeal on it. You can use the back of a baking sheet as an alternative. Cover lightly with a towel and let rise until dough is puffy and holds a faint impression when lightly pressed, about 25 minutes. At least 30 minutes before baking, place a baking stone in the oven and heat to 425°F. If you don’t have a stone, go get one. If you insist on not getting one, place an empty baking sheet in the oven during this pre-heat and when the time comes, slide the dough onto this hot one.
With a razor blade, slash an line about 1/4 inch deep down the top of dough. Sprinkle the slash with coarse salt.
Using a spray bottle, mist oven heavily. Wait 5 minutes. Slide bread onto stone, re-mist oven. Wait 5 minutes and re-mist oven. Then bake until bread is deep golden, about 35 to 45 minutes for the loaf; 15 to 25 minutes for the rolls.. The bread should have a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.
If you’re going to bother to bake your own bread do invest in the two tools needed here: a baking peel and a baking stone. It really does make it easier. Don’t be stingy with the cornmeal on the peel either. Make sure the bread is moving easily before you try to put it on the stone. I like more rosemary than the original recipe calls for. This recipe can also be used to make Olive Bread. Leave out the milk and rosemary and knead in 1/2 cup pitted olives at the end of kneading.