Cold Fermented Italian Bread
 Recipe Source

Author: Bob and Robin Young

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This is a variation on the Italian Bread. Crumb is good and the flavors are good.

You can let this dough ferment for 1 to 7 days in the refrigerator.
 Recipe Type
5 c    Warm water (110F)  
1 t    Turbinado Sugar  
3 T    Dry Active Yeast  
2 T    Malt syrup  
3 T    Basil, dried (Optional)  
3 med    Garlic cloves, crushed (Optional)  
1 T    Sea Salt  
10 c    Bread Flour  
1 Add the sugar and malt syrup to the warm water and stir to dissolve. Add the yeast, stir to dissolve and let proof.
2 See Tip #3 below. Stir in 4 cups of flour, salt, basil and garlic and beat until smooth.
3 Add the remaining flour and mix to combine. The dough will be wet and sticky, but smooth.
4 Cut the ball in half - visual half - and put it into plastic, lightly greased bowls. Cover and refrigerate for 12+ hours. The dough will keep up to 7 days refrigerated. The 1st loaf you remove and bake will not be the same as the last. The dough continues to ferment in the refrigerator. I like the bread best after being refrigerated 5 - 7 days.
5 Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
6 (See Tip #2 below for baguettes) Remove one container, or however many loaves you want to bake, of dough from the refrigerator. Remove from the plastic bowl and shape into a long loaf. Place on a cornmeal dusted cookie sheet, baguette pan or stone or in a lightly greased loaf pan (see below). Slash the top and cover with a clean cloth. Let rise for 1 - 1 hours. This is a visual rise and the loaf will rise more in the oven.
7 Once risen, mist with water (Optional) and place in the oven. Mist loaves with water (Optional) and turn occasionally while they bake. Bread is done when golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 30-40 minutes. Optimum loaf temperature is 190F.
8 Remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack for a minimum of 30 minutes - this is the hardest part, but your patience will be rewarded.
Yield: 2 Loaves
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
 Cooking Tips
1. A 1 pound loaf, or dough ball, will be about the size of a grapefruit. A 1 pound loaf will be about the size of a medium cantaloupe.
2. This recipe is a great basic starter for Italian Bread and French Baguettes.
If making baguettes, after removing from the refrigerator, divide a single ball in half. Roll the dough into a baguette and place in baguette pans that have been lightly oiled and dusted with cornmeal. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. I place the baguettes into a warm oven to rise. Bake as above.
3. In steps 2 and 3 above, you can definitely use a mixer for making the dough, but I really prefer to do this by hand. If your hands tend to stick to the dough, run some cold water over your hands and work the dough with wet hands.
4. If making loaves, use 12x4" loaf pans.
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