Recipe for Pane Basso (Tuscan Country Bread)


2 oz fresh yeast
500 ml warm water
2 lb strong white flour


("Strong white flour" is a UK term for all-purpose flour. Use bread flour if you can get it, preferably unbleached.) Dissolve the yeast in 150 ml of the warm water in a small bowl. Sift in enough of the flour to make a soft dough, mixing with the hands. Cover and put in a warm place to rise. When the yeast dough has at least doubled in size, begin making the rest of the dough. Sift the remaining flour onto a wood or marble surface. Make a well in the middle; pour a little water into it and begin working the flour towards this with your hands. When the dough has absorbed enough water to bind together, add the yeast dough and work in. Knead for 5-10 minutes, occasionally lifting the dough and smacking it on the table. Continue until it no longer sticks to your hands. Sprinkle a large bowl with water and put the dough into it. Cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled in size (about 30 minutes). Knead again 5-10 minutes and form into two balls. Let stand another 20 minutes, and then bake on a greased, floured baking tin until crusty (about 30 minutes) in an oven preheated to 350.

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