Victor’s making his Monday Masterpiece, so I’ve baked a loaf of bread to go along with it.

The Pane Pugliese is a rustic bread from Puglia.  Puglia is Italy’s heel – and the perfect accompaniment to tonight’s pasta sensation!

The bread calls for a biga – a starter – that needs to be made the day before.

This recipe comes from The Italian Baker by Carol Field.  It’s one of the few cook books we didn’t get rid of a few years ago.  I’ve been making this particular bread forever – and really do like it.

Pane Pugliese

  • 1 packet dry yeast (or 1/2 package fresh yeast)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3 cups water; room temp
  • 1 cup biga
  • 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp salt

Proof the yeast in the warm water. Add 1 1/2 c water and the biga, mix till blended. Add flour and salt, mix till dough comes together and pulls off the sides of the bowl. Knead 3-5 minutes in a mixer, longer by hand. Dough will be very soft and elastic. Let rise about 3 hours, shape into 2 small round loaves or 1 big flattish one. If you have baking stones, place loaves on baking peel or on baking sheets sprinkled corn meal. Let rise about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 450°, and 10 minutes before baking flour the loaf tops and dimple them with your fingers. Bake 50-60 minutes for big loaves, 30-35 minutes for small. Tap the loaves to test for doneness (hollow=done) and cool on a rack.

And the biga.  I would imagine it could stay in the ‘fridge and just keep adding to it as I used to do with my starters years ago.

The bread is wild.  It rises wild, it bakes wild.  It really has a mind of its own.  One of the reasons I really like it.  The unpredictability is what makes it fun.


  • 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (or 1/10 package fresh yeast)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 1/4 cup water (room temperature)
  • 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Stir the yeast into the warm water and let stand until creamy – about 10 minutes.  Stir in the remaining water and then the flour, one cup at a time.

Mix with the paddle attachment on the mixer at the lowest speed about 2 minutes.

Remove to a slightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise at cool room temperature for 6 to 24 hours.  The starter will triple in volume and still be wet and sticky when ready.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

I made one loaf and froze the rest of the dough – as well as the biga.

Ready to go into the hot oven!

This bread is stellar!  It is really crusty with a great interior.

I can’t wait for dinner!