The breads of the Emilia Romagna region are traditionally dry and almost cracker-like on the outside and cottony in the inside.
The bakers achieve this by creating a wet dough, being careful not to use a lot of flour. This may take you a few tries before you succeed - unless you're a native from Emilia Romagna!
MAKES 1 POUND, 14 OUNCES DOUGH
1 package active dry yeast (0.25 ounces)
1 3/4 cups warm (110°to 115°F) filtered or bottled noncarbonated water
1 tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3 to 3 1/2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
To make the dough using the fontana method, in a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in ½ cup of the water, stirring to mix well. Let the yeast proof for about 5 minutes, or until tiny clusters of chalky-looking bubbles appear on the surface. Stir the remaining 1 ¼ cups water and the olive oil into the proofed yeast.
Mound the flour on a work surface and make a hole in the center of the flour (this is the fontana). Sprinkle the salt over the flour. Carefully pour the yeast mixture into the hole. Using your fingers, begin bringing the flour from the inside wall of the fontana into the liquid, working in a clockwise movement as you incorporate the flour.
Be careful not to break through the wall; if any liquid does leak out, catch it with some of the flour, a shaggy, lumpy mass will form; add just enough flour to make a dough that holds together. Push the excess flour to the side with a bench knife.
Now you are ready to knead the dough: Knead until you have a soft ball of dough that is sticking to your hands, about 5 minutes. Lightly spray a large bowl with oil spray, put the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.
To make the dough by hand in a bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water in a large bowl and proof as directed above, then add the remaining 1 ¼ cups water and the olive oil. Begin adding the flour to the yeast mixture, 1 cup at a time, mixing it in well with your hands. Add the salt with the third cup flour. Add just enough flour so that the dough comes together in a wet, shaggy mass. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and follow the directions above for kneading and rising.
When the dough has risen and is almost doubled in size, it is ready to be used. Cut small pieces, roll them out into a snake shape, 10-12 inches long and 1-inch diameter.
On a lightly greased baking sheet, place the dough "snakes" down and bend them in half slightly to form an "x". Then add a small piece of dough on the top to hold the pieces together.
Let rise for 30 minutes, then bake in a 375 degreee oven for 20-25 minutes.
Keep an eye on them while baking to avoid burning.
They are done when they give off a hollow-sounding "clunk."
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