The Pugliese Recipe is a classic Italian country loaf is flavored and preserved with olive oil. Do not worry if the dough seems wet at first, as the looser the dough, the larger the air pockets in the finished crumb.
12 hours or overnight
Rising and proofing time
up to 4 hours
For the biga
1⁄4 tsp dried yeast
3⁄4 cup bread flour
extra virgin olive oil, for greasing
For the dough:
½ tsp dried yeast
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
12⁄3 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 For the biga, dissolve the yeast in 1⁄2 cup warm water, whisking. Add the liquid to the flour and bring it together to form a dough. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic, and put in a cool place to rise for at least 12 hours, or overnight.
2 For the dough, dissolve the yeast in 2⁄3 cup warm water, then add the oil. Put the biga, flour, and salt into a bowl. Add the liquid. Stir it to form a rough dough. Knead for 10 minutes on a well floured surface until smooth and elastic.
3 Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave to rise in a warm place for up to 2 hours, until doubled in size. Turn it out onto a floured surface. Gently knock it back and knead it into a shape; I like a rounded oblong.
4 Place the dough on a large baking sheet, cover with oiled plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm place for up to 2 hours, until doubled in size. The bread is ready to bake when it is tight and well risen, and a finger gently poked into the dough leaves a dent that springs back quickly. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
5 Slash the the loaf in a slightly off-center line. This will allow the bread to continue to rise in the oven. Dust with flour, spray with water, and place on the middle rack. Bake for 30–35 minutes. For a crisper crust, spray with water every 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and let cool.
The loaf will keep for 2–3 days, tightly wrapped in paper.