If you're like me and also get these envious feelings because of homemade bread then I have a recipe for you, it's going to fulfil your sourdough eating and making cravings but doesn't have the responsibility. It's perfect for all those fellow sourdough dreamers out there. You get the same crusty, chewy homemade bread but it's all in a nights work. No feeding a starter or keeping anything alive. It's the no commitment needed, faux sourdough loaf... the single girls sourdough AND it's midweek friendly. You read that right. Freshly baked bread on a Wednesday. Yep.
This genius recipe that does all the work while you sleep is in Gennaro Contaldo brilliant new cookbook Gennaro's Italian Bakery. The Pane Cafone, Neapolitan Peasant Bread. It's a traditional Italian recipe for a no-knead bread from Naples originally baked in a wood-oven. It has a 24 hour slow rise then a little folding and resting, then its just baking your little loaf in an extremely hot oven in an extremely hot cast-iron pot. It's changed my bread making days forever.
This little loaf was so delicious and simple. The crust was satisfyingly crunchy and chewy with the inside having more flavour then other homemade breads as the slow rise gives it that almost sourdough taste. It was a seriously good loaf of bread and even kept well the next day, just needed a little reheat in a warm oven and it was just as good as straight out of the oven smothered in salty butter.
The recipe calls for fresh yeast but unless you know someone in the industry or want to buy a large amount of it, the dried stuff you get in the supermarkets works fine. I used roughly half the amount in dried yeast which worked out to be just under a 1/2 teaspoon - I've made a note in the recipe below. Also make sure you have the sharpest knife you own ready at hand to score the top once you place the dough in the hot pot. I fumbled and didn't have a sharp knife ready so didn't get a nice pattern or lift on top of my bread but thats just being picky now and I'm so stoked with the recipe, sharp knife or not. It's going to taste delicious.
There are so many more recipes in Gennaro's new cookbook that I cannot wait to get stuck into like the olive oil soaked focaccia, traditional Italian pizza dough, Calzone, Sicilian Brioche filled with gelato and beautiful fruit and jam tarts. If these other recipes are anything like the Pan Cafone, they are going to change the way you work with dough. Everything looks so beautiful in this cookbook, a little rustic but it has home and tradition all over it. My advice to you my lovely readers is; go now and get your self some dried yeast (or fresh if you're lucky) and start the recipe below because in 24 hours you could have a little loaf just like mine. No food envy, just 24 hours of dreaming of the best home made bread you'll make.
I know I'm off to put together another batch of Pan Cafone so I can have a freshly baked 'faux sourdough' little loaf tomorrow night.
Pane Cafone - Neapolitan Peasant Breadrecipe from Gennaro's Italian Bakery by Gennaro Contaldo
(adapted ever so slightly - with notes)
3g fresh yeast - or just under 1/2 a teaspoon dried yeast
250ml lukewarm water
375g strong bread flour - plain all purpose flour works too
1 teaspoon salt
- Dissolve the yeast into the lukewarm water and set aside. Place 300g of flour in a large bowl, add the yeast mixture and mix in gently with a spoon (this will look like a shaggy mess, thats ok). Combine the remaining flour with the salt in a bowl, then add this to the flour and yeast mixture, gently mixing until all ingredients are amalgamated (you may need a little more water, so add it carefully). Cover with clingfilm and leave to rest in a warm place for 24 hours. Small bubbles will appear and this is normal.
- After 24 hours, place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and gently fold over a couple of times to form a ball. Cover with a clean tea-towel and leave to rest for a further 2 hours.
- After 1 hour, preheat the oven to 220C/450F and place an empty cast-iron pot (without the lid) in the oven.
- Remove the pot from the oven and carefully place the bread inside. Make a couple of incisions on the top of the dough using a very sharp knife, cove with the lid and place immediately back into the hot oven on the bottom shelf.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for a further 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, leave in the pot for 10 minutes, then turn out of the pot onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely - if you can wait that long! Slice and enjoy.