Bread Basket Bread

Mary Ann Esposito

Among the bread-making equipment in my kitchen is a banneton, a cloth-lined willow basket used for giving a nice shape to bread dough as it rises. An added bonus is that the imprint of the basket is left on the dough, creating a nice visual effect. Bannetons can be round, elongated, even oval. They are a bit expensive, but you can improvise a banneton with a regular basket lined with a clean cloth. You can use a banneton to shape almost any bread dough. It's a wonderful way to produce a symmetrical loaf with no additional shaping effort on your part.

Ingredients

Cornmeal
1 recipe Nonna's Sponge Dough or Straight Dough

Directions

Generously dust a 9 ×3 1/2-inch banneton or other cloth-lined basket with flour.  Sprinkle a layer of cornmeal evenly over the bottom of the basket.  Set the basket aside.

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes, until smooth and no longer sticky.  Form the dough into a round or the approximate shape of the banneton, and place it in the basket.  Cover the basket with a clean cloth and let the dough rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until it is three quarters of the height of the basket.

Preheat the oven to425°F.

If baking the bread on a stone, put the stone on the bottom oven rack to preheat and line a baker's peel with parchment paper.  Set aside.  If baking the bread on a baking sheet, spray it with Filippo Berio olive oil or vegetable oil spray.

Remove the cloth from the top of the dough.  Gently turn the basket over onto the peel or baking sheet, being careful not to deflate the dough.  Make two or three shallow 2-inch-long slashes or cuts across the top of the bread with a lane, sharp knife, or scissors.

To bake the bread on the stone, slide the bread, with the parchment paper, onto the stone.  Or place the baking sheet in the oven.  Using a mister, mist the oven walls quickly with water and immediately close the oven door. Mist the oven walls two or three times more during the first 10 minutes of baking.  Bake the bread for 30 to 35minutes if using the baking stone, 35 to 40 minutes if baking the bread on a sheet, until the bread is a rich golden brown on the top and bottom and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped with your knuckles.

With a bread paddle or a large metal spatula, remove the bread to a rack to cool completely.

This recipe is from What You Knead by Mary Ann Esposito,published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., in 1997.

item recipe is featured in Episode 0 of Season 0.

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