Knead in a mixer or by hand until the Biga becomes elastic and pulls away from the bowl or counter if being done by hand. About 8 minutes. Cover and ferment 16-24 hours at room temperature.
Knead dough until elastic. Add the apricots toward the end of the kneading cycle. You may need to add more flour or water to reach the desired consistency.
Check the proofed dough by making an indentation with your finger into the dough. If the depression does not bounce back the dough is fully proofed.
Bake loafs at 375^. During the first 5 mintues spray the inside of the oven twice with water. This helps form the crust you want. More water equals less crust.
Bake for about 24 minutes or until the dough registers 200^ internally. Rotate the pan half way through cooking to insure even browning.
This bread is adapted from a recipe made at the California Culinary Academy at a "Weekends At The Academy" class that I took 17 years ago. This course was on Rustic Italian Breads. We made five different breads all of which are excellent. Sadly they no longer offer these classes for the home chef; they were great fun and an excellent way to learn from accredited chef instructors at the Academy.
Though the bread may look complicated to make it really isn't. The recipe makes two loaves about 9" in diameter and 1 1/2 pounds each. You may need to adjust the water/flour amounts depending on where you live and the type flour used. You are looking for an elastic dough that pulls away from the mixer or counter when completely kneaded. I used Red Mill No. 1 Durum Wheat and King Arthur high gluten bread flour. If you are kneading this dough by hand be prepared for a workout as the semolina makes the dough more dense and harder to work. I used my Kitchen Aid Professional on medium speed.
This bread is highly appealing visually. It makes for a great bread for Easter along side a nice ham or leg of lamb. The key is the semolina which results in an interesting crumb and mouth feel. The apricots and apricot water add a sweetness that kids will love. Kids also like seeing who can get the center apricot sun burst after all of the eight wedges are consumed.
The loaves freeze well if properly wrapped and contained.
- For the Pre-dough (Biga):
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour
- 5 oz water-room temperature
- 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- For the Garnish:
- 5 oz dried apricots, chopped
- 12 oz water-hot
- 3 ea apricots-macerated whole for the center sunburst
- For the Dough:
- All the Pre-dough from the day before
- 8 oz water from the apricots
- 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 3 cups semolina flour
- 1 cup bread flour
- 1 Tbs salt
- Day One:
- To make the Biga completely dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the bread flour and knead until smooth and elastic. This may be done by hand or in a mixer. Place the biga in an oiled bowl. Cover and ferment at room temperature 16-24 hours.
- Chop the dried apricots and soak in hot water. Let sit overnight to fully macerated.
- Day Two:
- Transfer the biga to a mixer bowl with yeast and apricot water. Mash the biga into the water with your hands until almost completely combined. Add the bread flour, semolina and salt. Knead with a dough hook in the mixer until an elastic smooth dough is formed. It will take at least 8-10 minutes in the mixer. Add the apricots toward the end of the kneading cycle. You may need to adjust with more water or flour to achieve the desired consistency.
- Proof at 85^ in an oiled covered bowl until double in volume. About an hour and half.
- Divide proofed dough into two equal portions. Shape into two flat rounds about 9" in diameter. Cut the dough into 8 fingered sunburst and twist the fingers. The photos above walk you through this process. Final proof the dough until risen by half of its volume again.
- Garnish loaves with sunburst apricot and bake at 375^ until golden and internal temperature registers 200^. About 24 minutes in my convection oven. During the first five minutes spray loaves twice with water to steam.
- Remove and cool on wire racks.
- Loaves are ready to eat when cool.
|Amount Per Serving||%DV|
|Serving Size 76g|
|Recipe makes 16 servings|
|Calories from Fat 6||3%|
|Total Fat 0.74g||1%|
|Saturated Fat 0.1g||0%|
|Trans Fat 0.0g|
|Total Carbs 39.44g||11%|
|Dietary Fiber 2.0g||7%|