BBA Challenge #15: Italian Bread

When looking at the recipe for the next bread of the BBA Challenge I couldn’t really figure out what the difference might be between French and Italian bread.  Ok, French bread is made with a pâte fermentée (pre-ferment with salt), whereas Italian bread is made with a biga (pre-ferment without salt). And Italian bread contains oil and diastatic malt powder whereas the recipe for French bread doesn’t need any of these. But the result is something that looks like a baguette to me. Anyway, Peter Reinhart says that also the Italian bread is softer and less crusty than French bread. Still, I couldn’t really imagine I would even notice a big difference between the two. Anyway, this bread was part of the challenge, so I didn’t want to skip it. And, OMG I am sooooooooo glad I made this bread.

First, I had to prepare the biga and let it rest in the fridge for 2 days. On the baking day I removed it from the refrigerator and cut it into several small pieces well before making the dough so it could de-chill (does this word exist in English at all?) a little bit. I added more flour, salt, sugar, yeast, diastatic barley malt powder, olive oil and milk.

Finding diastatic barley malt powder here was quite a challenge. First, I couldn’t figure out what diastatic and non-diastatic would be in German – well, it’s not hard to translate because diastatic = diastatisch and non-diastatic = nicht-diastatisch. But these weren’t the terms being used when I was looking for malt powder in different online stores. But finally I found out that for diastatic malt powder the term “enzymaktiv” is used. This is where I finally found it.

As always, kneading and fermenting… When it was time to divide the dough into either 2 pieces for loaves or 9 pieces for torpedo rolls, I went for the rolls option. We just had eaten the baguette the day before; plus, I wanted to try out something else design-wise. Ok, so there were 9 rolls that had to be formed into torpedo rolls which I more or less successfully did. Some more proofing, and then it was scoring time again. Of course, I couldn’t be much more successful than the day before with the French bread because I still had the same razor blade and still no clue what went wrong the day before. So I used the same technique as with the French bread, and of course had the same result. No nicely scored rolls. Oh well. They went into the oven anyway. Who cares about scoring? I do, actually ;-).

Maybe the rolls didn’t look really THAT pretty, but flavor-wise they were FANTASTIC. This is the best bread I’ve ever eaten and I will totally make it again very soon!


I made this bread again in March 2010, but didn’t shape them into rolls this time, but into bâtards. We again absolutely loved this bread. Here are some pictures:


4 responses to “BBA Challenge #15: Italian Bread

  1. Next time I will make this I will let the biga sit for two days. AND I finally got my own diastatic malt powder. I liked this bread, but wasn’t amazed, maybe those changes you made will help!

    Meanwhile–wait until the pain au levain! It’s my favorite of that type of bread so far.

  2. Found your comment/post link on Pinch My Salt ~ I’m so glad you enjoyed this bread! I have made it several times as our family likes it so much. Making this bread has slowed me down in making the other breads in the challenge, but I’m ready to go on. Looking forward to more of your posts!

  3. Yum, I love me some good Italian food :)That and red wine… I’ll be looking like the dudes on the Jersey Shore in no time lol

  4. Pingback: BBA Italian Bread « Bon Vivant

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