Fustini's Oils and Vinegars
Ligurian Bread

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Ligurian Bread


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Ligurian Bread

Submitted by Frank Keegan



Step 1. 

Mix honey, warm milk, yeast. Set aside to proof.  Mash boiled potato into flour and salt with hands until evenly distributed and small bits of potato remain (leftover mashed potatoes can work, but produce a very different texture.). Whisk oil into yeast/honey mixture. Add to a well in flour/potato mixture.  Mix, gradually adding water to achieve a soft, sticky dough. Knead lightly to smooth some, but this should be a relative wet dough. Cover. Let rise until doubled.

Step 2. 

Generously oil (plain or flavored) a half sheet pan (10x15) and sprinkle lightly with sea salt, fine or medium. You can skip salting the pan if cutting back, and it doesn’t seem to make much difference.  Gently deflate dough. Spread in pan (If it is being obdurate, put partially spread dough in pan in refrigerator or freezer for 5-10 minutes to relax, then spread to edges.). Cover to rise at least 1/2 hour.  Oil fingertips. Press dents all across the dough, being careful to not puncture. Rise another 1/2 hour, or longer if necessary.

Step 3. 

Heat oven to 450 f.  Just before baking, combine oil and balsamic into an emulsion. Apply evenly to the dough (without brushing, which deflates it.) Sprinkle lightly and evenly with sea salt and top with fresh herbs, olives, anchovies, sundried tomatoes or other favorites. Place pan in the bottom rack of the oven and reduce heat to 425 f. Bake 30 minutes, rotating at 15 if necessary.

Let rest in pan on a rack until cool enough to handle. Remove to finish cooling on the rack. It can be difficult, but a crisp golden intact bottom crust is important. I found that cutting around the edge of the pan, then cutting bread in quarters in the pan, then using my giant spatula to scrape the quarters out worked best. (Baking on oiled parchment paper works, but some crispiness is lost.)

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