Italy has always been famous for its breads— they have a delicious aroma and a wonderful open, aerated texture. This is largely due to what is called “biga,” a fresh yeast starter. In traditional bakeries, the starter is kept going for decades, handed down from one generation to another. Plan ahead and make your starter the day before. Cudduruni is similar to focaccia, and can have various toppings, or be filled like a calzone. It is also served more simply as rounds of dough, fried until golden on both sides, and sprinkled with salt.
– For the biga.
– ½ small cake (0.6oz) fresh yeast.
– ½ cup warm water.
– 1 cup bread flour.
– For the dough.
– 1 small cake (0.6oz) fresh yeast.
– 1 tsp sugar.
– 1½ cups warm water 7 tbsp biga (see below.
– 3 tbsp olive oil.
– 4 cups bread flour.
– 1½ tsp salt.
Step 2: To make the dough, mix the yeast and the sugar, and break up with a teaspoon until you have a smooth paste. Whisk this into the warm water with the biga and the olive oil. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, and mix in the yeast liquid. Mix together until you form a dough. Turn onto a floured board, and knead vigorously for 12–15 minutes until the dough is shiny and elastic. It should be springy to the touch.
Step 3: Lightly flour a bowl and place the ball of dough in it. Cover and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1½ hours. Two types of bread To make a simple loaf, flour a baking tray and shape the dough on the tray. Allow to prove for 10 minutes. Bake in a preheated 425°F (220°C) oven for 25–35 minutes until golden, depending on the size and depth of the loaf. It is ready when the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Alternatively, take pieces of dough about the size of tennis balls and flatten until ½in (1cm) thick. Heat a splash of olive oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Cook the rounds one at a time for 2–3 minutes on one side until golden. Turn over and cook for 2 more minutes on the other side. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. Eat piping hot.