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Pugliese Hard Biscuits

Frisedde

Makes 12

Frisedda, a hard, dry biscuit from Puglia, was originally eaten by shepherds while tending their flocks. It provided a welcome snack that kept well for a long time.

There are many ways to use it; my favorite is as the base of a fresh tomato salad. Traditionally, frisedde are boiled first, then baked, split in half, and baked again until dry and hard; in this modern version, the boiling step is eliminated.

The frisedde are topped with anything from diced plum tomatoes and herbs to marinated vegetables to a seafood salad of squid, shrimp, and clams.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 cup warm (110º to 115ºF) water

About 3 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir to dissolve. Let the yeast proof for about 5 minutes, until it swells and becomes bubbly.

Gradually add 2 3/4 cups flour and the salt to the yeast mixture and mix with your hands until a ball of dough is formed, adding additional flour as needed until the dough is no longer sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes, or until smooth.

Lightly oil a large bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in it, and turn to coat. Cover with a towel and let rest for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Lightly grease two baking sheets.

On a floured surface, knead the dough for a few minutes. Roll it into a 24-inch rope and cut the rope into six pieces. Roll each piece into a 13-inch rope and bring the ends together to form a ring. Pinch the ends to seal. Place 3 rings on each baking sheet, spacing them well apart. Cover and let rise for 15 minutes.

Bake the rings for 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the rings cool slightly. (Leave the oven on.) With a sharp knife, cut the rings horizontally in half, and place on the baking sheets, cut sides up. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the rings to a rack to cool completely.

To serve, dip each ring quickly in water and place on individual serving dishes. Fill the centers with your choice of ingredients.

Note: Any leftover rings can be frozen, well wrapped, for future use.

This recipe is from CELEBRATIONS ITALIAN STYLE by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow & Company Inc. in 1995.

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