After Easter decadence of wine, pecorino cheese, truffle pasta, pici con ragu di cinghiale, and yet more cheese, and cake for breakfast (ciambelle, crostate…) it is time to buckle down, eat greens and vegetables, save for the next holiday and bake bread again. It is the weekend of the double papal canonization, of Giovanni XXIII and Giovanni Paolo II, and the centre of Rome is packed with pilgrims. There are maxi screens around the centre for people to follow the ceremony tomorrow, in multiple languages, and there are vigils already. There are even lost tourist buses in our piazza. We are hunkering down and staying home in Garbatella, with fresh bread.
Sourdough loaf with barley
100 grammes mature sourdough starter (100% hydration)
150 grammes barley flour
350 grammes flour (plain white 00)
400 grammes water
10 grammes salt
10 grammes sunflower seeds
Stir the sourdough starter with the water, My starter is made with coarse rye flour, which adds more texture and flavour, but use what you prefer. Add the flour and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. After this initial rest, add the salt and seeds, if using. Mix well. Add more flour or water if you think the dough needs it.
Cover the bowl and let rise for about a few hours at room temperature. Fold the dough a few times (just in the bowl, using a spoon or spatula). You will feel the dough becoming more elastic and responsive, and it will increase nicely in volume. A few hours before baking, fold dough into a banneton or bread tin, and let rest a couple hours until it’s rising nicely. (You can also leave it overnight in the fridge, unless your fridge is too full of pecorino cheese from Pienza and the only option is baking same day…. A overnight fermentation gives better flavour.)
When ready to bake: heat your oven to 250C, with a cast iron pot. When it is properly hot, take the pot out carefully. Invert the dough onto a piece of baking paper, slash the dough, and put the bread in the pot. Bake at 250C for 25-30 minutes with the lid on, then 15-20 minutes more with the lid off, until the bread looks done and the base of the bread sounds hollow if you tap it. About 45 minutes in all, depending on your oven. Cool before slicing.
I am off to the farmers’ market soon, which is hopefully open. Yesterday was a public holiday, so you never know. Friends from Norway are in town, staying near Campo di Fiori, and rather than meeting in the centre, I suggested an old Garbatella stroll through the lotti today in the sunshine to the market. Birds are singing, trees are flowering, and we may even stop for cappuccini on the way at Bar dei Cesaroni. We will get some mozzarella and salami, and wander home for a long lunch with pasta from the shop downstairs. That is, IF they manage to get the right bus from Teatro Marcello and IF they actually get here soon…. Crossing my fingers!