An excerpt from “The Bread Bakers Apprentice”:
“What makes Tuscan bread unique in the bread lexicon is that it is salt free, which makes it wonderful for people on salt-restricted diets. Unfortunately, the lack of salt also makes it rather dull and flat tasting. Tuscans, no slouches when it comes to full-flavored food, remedy this by lavishing it with intensely flavored spreads and pastes, or eating it with flavorful dishes, such as garlic- and olive oil-infused white bean soup. A technique that is also unique to this bread is the use of a cooked flour paste, made the day before. This is different from a pre-ferment since there is no yeast added and the paste does not ferment, but the gelatinized starches release flavors that gives this bread a distinct quality, quite unlike any other bread.”
The challenge in making this bread wasn’t the dough or fermentation process at all. Instead, what made this challenging were the oven conditions. I had to recreate a hearth oven at home. The book gives instructions on doing this and your house will get very warm. To start out you have to pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees F for 20 – 30 minutes. After quickly placing the bread on the rack you have to spray the sides of the oven with water a couple of times to create the steam needed to form a good crust.
This bread was a challenge but definitely rewarding. I paired this bread with spicy spaghetti and both were wonderful. The bread is not overly bland but lends itself well to other bolder flavors.
If you would like the recipe for this bread leave a comment or pick up this wonderful book.The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread