1 ozcompressed fresh yeast, or 1/2 packages active dry yeast
1 1/2 clukewarm water
5 1/2 cunbleached all-purpose flour
4 Tbspolive oil
15 largeleaves of sage, fresh or preserved in salt
1/2 cdry white wine
1/4 tspfreshly ground black pepper
How to Make ITALIAN SAGE BREAD (PANE ALLA SALVIA )
- In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of the water, stirring with a wooden spoon.
- Place 1 1/2 cups of the flour in a larger bowl, add the dissolved yeast, and mix with the wooden spoon until all of the flour is incorporated and a small
ball of dough is formed. Sprinkle an additional 1/2 cup of flour over the ball of dough, then cover the bowl with a cotton towel and put it in a warm place, away from drafts. Let it stand until the dough has doubled in size about 1 hour.
- Put the olive oil in a small saucepan and warm it over medium heat. When the oil is lukewarm, add the sage leaves, each torn into 2 or 3 pieces. Saute the sage for 1 minute, then remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture become lukewarm.
- Arrange the remaining 3 cups of flour in a mound on a pasta board, then make a well in the center. Place the risen ball of dough in the well along with the wine, salt, pepper and the oil-sage mixture. With a wooden spoon, carefully mix together all the ingredients in the well, then add the remaining 1/2 cup of lukewarm water and start mixing with your hands, absorbing the flour from the inside rim of the well, little by little. Keep mixing until all but 7 or 8 tablespoons of the flour are incorporated, then knead the dough with the palms of your hands, in a folding motion, until it is homogeneous and smoot, about 15 minutes.
- Give the dough the shape you prefer (a long or a round loaf), then place on a floured cotton towel. Wrap the dough in the towel and again put it in
a warm place, away from drafts, and let it stand until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Line the middle shelf of the oven with ovenproof terra-cotta tiles and preheat the oven to 400 F. to heat the tiles which simulate a brick oven.
- When the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the towel and place it in the oven immediately, directly on the tiles.
- Bake the bread for about 75 minutes. Do not open the oven door for the first 30 minutes.
- Remove the bread from the oven and place it on a pasta board standing on its side, not lying flat. The bread must cool for at least 3 hours before it is eaten.