Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stecca by Emily and Barbara

Stecca (which means "stick" in  Italian) Bread

Emily was visiting over the weekend, a nice treat for us.  While helping me with the No-Knead bread I had started, she got interested in another bread in Jim Lahey's great book, My Bread, on page 77 called Stecca.

So, we took a mid-course correction, and adapted the recipe.  Usually I put the dough in a preheated cast iron skillet. 

Instead Emily divided the dough into quarters then stretched it into four strands, and placed them on a large cookie sheet.
She studded two loaves with Tom's stash of olives and the other two with windowsill cherry tomato halves

I brushed the loaves with good olive oil and sea salt.

We baked them at 500 degrees, for 15 minutes, then checked them but they were still pale.  At 20 minutes, they became golden brown.  So we removed them and cooled them on wire racks.


adapted from Jim Lahey's, My Bread 

Ingredients for the dough:
3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 t. table salt
1/4 t. active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups cool water (55 to 65 degrees)
cornmeal for dusting

pitted olives, black and green
ripe sweet cherry tomatoes
olive oil
sea salt

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt and yeast.  Add water, stir with a spoon to mix into a very wet dough.  If it isn't wet, add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of water to be sure it is.  Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours, until surface is dotted with bubbles.

Dust a work surface with flour, then turn out the sticky dough, pull it together from the sides until all the sticky bits pinch together in the middle.  Turn it over.  Should be soft and round and the seam will be underneath. 

Open up a clean tea towel, dust it very well with cornmeal, and place the dough in the center of the cornmeal, seam side down. The cornmeal is to keep the dough from sticking to the towel.  Dust the top of the dough with more cornmeal, then cover by folding over the corners of the towel.  Place in a warm, draft free location to let the dough rise again until doubled.  Will take about 2 hours.  You can tell it is done if you touch it and it holds the impression.

Cut the dough in quarters.  Oil a large cookie sheet.  Carefully stretch and form four loaves and place them one inch apart on the cookie sheet.  Stud them with the olives and tomatoes.  Push them in deeply or they will fall out.  Brush generously with olive oil and salt the tomatoes.  The olives don't really need more salt but if you like salt, do them too.

Emily suggests other toppings:  red peppers, artichokes, olives stuffed with garlic.  Tom suggests peppadews, and salamis.

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