Jul 8, 2013

Spinata romagnola

I'm getting quite comfortable making Italian breads and quite fond of it.

These Italian recipes seem to work every time. Unless...like the other day, I got so comfortable...or desperate that I decided to use whole wheat flour, because I was out of the white one. No, the spinata didn't come out Italian. It tasted like a whole wheat pasta. The second time around, I used 100% white flour and I got what I was looking for. Simple, light, tasty bread.

I don't know an Italian who eats whole wheat spaghetti or focaccia. Big supermarkets don't even carry them. I went through a time in life, some time ago, of eating exclusively whole-grain everything. And I don't think I'm ever going back. It doesn't match my aspirations to be like an Italian, enjoying life and food, without second thoughts attached.

In a couple of days, we'll be in Italy, just going though, with one layover. Our final destination is beautiful Croatia, but vacation without Italians and Italian things around, is not vacation at all. When in Italy, I buy Italian magazines, books, shampoos, nutella, cookies, prosciutto, prosecco, load our Toyota with goodies and drive over to Croatia. We reach our destination, and as much as I enjoy being in a Slavic country, I adore the company of our Italian neighbors.

My next Italian bread, I won't bake. I'll buy. In Italy.

Recipe adapted from Giallo Zafferano
time: 15 min preparation + 2 1/2 inactive + 30 min baking

  • 500 g (3 1/3 cups) flour
  • 12 g (1/2 oz) fresh yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 300 ml (1 1/4 cup) tepid water
  • 10 g (1 1/2 teaspoon) salt
  • 30 g (3 Tablespoons) olive oil
for topping
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary (more or less, kids liked it less)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (more or less)

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve crumbled yeast with sugar and a couple of spoons of water (taken from the whole amount). In a jar, dissolve salt in the rest of water. Mix in oil.
  2. In a bowl of a standing mixer with a needle attachment, sift in flour. Pour in the yeast mix and, using your hands, combine it with flour (about 20 seconds). Turn the mixer on "stir", add water mix and let the mixer run for 10 minutes. Cover it with a cotton cloth and put it in  the oven with the light on for 2 hours (till it doubles or triples in size).
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, drizzle 2 Tablespoons of oil and spread evenly. Transfer the dough (that has doubled in size) onto the sheet and stretch it with your fingers, working from the middle to the sides. (The finger marks are characteristic to the look of the spinata). Sprinkle rosemary and salt on top. Cover it with a cotton cloth and leave in the the oven with the light on for 25 min. Take it out and let it rise outside the oven for another 10 min, while you are..
  4. ...preheating the oven to 200C/400F (fan forced function). Place the spinata in the hot oven for 30 - 35 minutes, till golden. It burns fast, it's better to give one minute less than one too many. Take it out and enjoy it warm or cold. Next day, the spinata gets more chewy.

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