Tonights dinner was really nothing more than having a reason to get bread and butter into our mouths.

Not just any bread, though…  Pane Pugliese – one of my most-favorite rustic breads.

This recipe comes from The Italian Baker by Carol Field.  I’ve been making this particular bread forever – and really do like it.  It’s a dark, crusty, hearty bread that just screams for soup or stew or pasta sauce to sop.  It calls for a biga – a starter – that needs to be made the day before.  There’s also about 4 hours of rising time, so plan accordingly.

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.


  • 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.

And the timing could not have been better.  Earlier today, my sister booked our vacation rentals in Italy for June.  A week in Rome and a week in Florence – with day-trips here and there…  We won’t be as far south as Puglia to get a loaf of this particular bread, but I can’t wait to stray off the tourist path and besides eating fabulous meals – actually buy groceries and do a little cooking there!

What fun.  I have to get going on my Rosetta Stone Italiano program!