PANE DI PASTA TENERA CONDITA or ITALIAN KNOT BREAD
(First a short note to my readers and commenters, my computer is in for reparation and after a disastrous month for computers in our home, I have only limited access to the only working computer remained so I have to excuse myself for a) not having the time to answer comments and emails properly and b) for not being a good fellow blogger visiting your blogs and leaving comments. Not as if I am that good at it even with my computer alive and kicking but now I am worse than ever. Please be patient with me!)
As you can see it is time for our monthly bread and this month I got to choose what to bake and it didn’t take me long to decide which bread it was going to be. A couple of months ago I bought an Italian bread book called Pane. Il piacere di preparare pane in casa by Anna Gennari and every bread I have baked from it has been really good but the one that have had the biggest success all over (and then I mean with every member of the family, dog included) is pane di pasta tenera condita or what I call Italian Knot Bread. It is a pretty bread, quite easy to make and very easy to eat. If you ever have been to Italy, it is very probable that you have had very smooth white bread buns in restaurants or at home with your friends, I love them despite the fact that I am more of a wholemeal bread person but I never ever managed to bake similar bread at home until now. This is a recipe that calls for 00 flour, i.e. the finely milled flour you use for making cakes and cookies here in Italy with a protein content that is around 8-9%, and it calls for lard. Not much of it so I don’t think it will cause any problems with those of you that have problems with high colestereol levels, with the help of my friends Dancingmorganmouse and our Alumni Babe Glenna I managed to calculate that the content of lard is only 2,7% of the bread as a whole and to be honest, I personally prefer a bit of lard to some of the processed vegetable oils that we find in a lot of food. If you want, you can substitute it but you will not have the same bread unfortunately, the lard does something to it. I know that several Babes have used other fats so please check out their breads, links at the bottom of the post. To help with the knot form, I have included two photos of the explanation that you find in the book and I have translated the text to make it easier for you. As to the recipe, it has been very slightly adapted by me and I have also translated the directions rather freely, having baked it so many times I have developed methods that are slightly different from the the original ones but I am still following the main directions the author gives. This bread freezes really well and that is something I appreciate. I hope you will like this bread as much as we do! I’d love it if you bake it and become a Bread Baking Buddie, if you want to join the ranks, make, bake and blog about the bread and send me the link to the post before the 30th of May (luculliandelights AT gmail DOT com) and I will send you a Buddie badge and include you in the roundup!
500 g /1,1 lb normal bread flour
5 g/0,17 oz fresh yeast
240 ml/1 cup water (I usually need a little more)
– Dissolve the yeast in a little water and quickly work the dough together.
– Put it in a high container, cover itwith a half closed lid or a kitchen towel and leave it for 15-24 hours.
0,500 g/1,1 lb biga
1 kg/ 2,2 lb 00 flour
450-550 ml/ 1,9-2,3 cup water, finger warm
30 g fresh yeast (this is what I found: 18 grams of fresh yeast = 7-10 grams of active dry yeast = about 4-6 grams of instant yeast, I don’t dare calculate it right now)
50 g/ 1,7 oz extra-virgin olive oil
60 g/ 2,1 oz lard
25 g/ 0,88 oz honey
25 g/ 0,88 oz salt
– Put the flour either in a big bowl or on a baking board, add the lard and mix it with your fingers until it has ‘crumbled’ and is completely mixed with the flour.
– Dissolve the yeast in little tepid water and add it to the flour.Mix as well as you can.
– Mix salt, olive oil and honey with the finger warm water and add it to the flour. Now work it it until it holds together and then add the biga.
– Work the dough until it is smooth and doesn’t stick. I do it by hand and then it takes between 5-10 minutes.
– Put it into a big bowl, cover it with plastic film and leave to rise until it has doubled.
– Now take up the dough and divide it into smaller parts, about 100 g/3,5 oz each, and roll them it into long snakes (sorry can’t remember the proper term) about 25 cm/9,8 in long but you can do them smaller if you want, no need the follow these indications religiously!
To make the knots:
1. (top left) Roll out the dough into snakes and lay them out on a flat surface.
2. (middle right) Make a semi-circle with the dough snakes.
3. (bottom left) Twist the two end together like in the photo.
4. (top left) Bring the two ends towards the upper part of the circle.
5. (bottom left) Lift/fold the top part over the twisted part.
6. (right) Take the two end and join them together under the actual knot, this will make the knot part come out more and it hides the ends.
– Put the knots on baking sheets and leave to rise until they have doubled in size.
– Bake in a pre-heated oven (200°C/390°F) for 30-35 minutes. As always it is useful to check the bread and to use your common baking sense!
please check out the rest of the Bread Baking Babes here to see what they made out of it, I know there are some nice variations! (They might not have posted about it yet though so try again if that is the case!): Bake My Day (Karen), I Like to Cook (Sara), Living on Bread and Water (Monique), My Kitchen in Half Cups (Tanna), Grain Doe (Gorel), Notitie van Lien (Lien), The Sour Dough (Mary aka Breadchick), Cookie Baker Lynn (Lynn), Living In The Kitchen With Puppies (Natashya)