If there was a bread I am most proud of discovering, the pane casereccio would be it. I love the texture, taste and depth of aroma that come from this bread. It’s simply inspiring! The dough can also be used to make many other fantastic breads as well, such as focaccia.
Pane casereccio is an Italian rustic loaf that uses a biga preferment. The biga adds flavour and enhances the structure of the dough. It’s fairly easy to shape so it’s the ideal bread for someone who’s made a couple of loaves before.
This recipe will take 16-22 hours to make, depending in how warm it is. This will make 2 medium sized pane casereccio loaves.
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What you need to make a pane casserecio
To make this amazing sourdough bread, you’ll need the following equipment:
- Mixing bowls
- A metal and plastic dough scraper
- A lid or some plastic wrap (something to cover the bowl)
- Scales, if you don’t a decent set you might want to try these scales from Myweigh
- A baking stone
- A lame or serrated knife
Using a thermometer will help you with controlling proofing times. For accurate dough temperature readings try this thermometer from Gdealer. Aim for the dough temperature to be around 26C (79F).
What if I don’t have a baking stone?
A baking stone conducts heat into the loaf. Using one increases the height of the oven spring and helps to give an even bake on the base of the loaf. If you don’t have a baking stone, preheat the thickest baking sheet that you have.
Can I use a dutch oven to make this recipe?
Yes, if you would rather use a dutch oven to make this pane casserecio recipe you won’t need to add steam to the oven. Simply preheat the dutch oven and drop the dough inside on a sheet of parchment paper to bake. If you are looking for a dutch oven, I recommend getting this one from Challenger.
For the biga:
- 300g White bread flour
- 265g Water
- 0.7g Fresh yeast (0.4g active dried)
For the dough:
- 450g White bread flour
- 280g Water
- 5.5g Yeast (2.5g active dried)
- 15g Salt
- 18g 2nd Water
- 18g Extra virgin olive oil
Making this recipe with active dried yeast or instant yeast
If using instant yeast, divide the amount of fresh yeast by 3 and follow the same method as fresh yeast. Active dried yeast needs to be activated before use. In this case, warm the water for the biga to 35C (95F) – no higher. Add the yeast to the bowl, whisk and leave for 10 minutes to bloom. Combine the flour for the biga with the yeasty water and place in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool. Return to the worktop and allow to ferment as above.
When ready to start the dough, warm 20 grams of water to 35C (95F), add the yeast with half a teaspoon of sugar, whisk and leave to stand for ten minutes before adding to the dough. Remove 20 grams of the 1st water addition from the recipe.
Changing the size of the recipe
This recipe makes 2 medium sized rustic loaves. If you want to change the size of the recipe, use the bakers formula.
How to make pane casserecio
1) Make the biga
Create the biga preferment the day before. If using dried yeast follow the instructions below, otherwise, add the yeast to the water and whisk until it’s dissolved. Add the biga flour and lightly mix with a dough scraper or your hands until it’s incorporated which should take about 2 minutes. Cover, and leave at around 18-25C (64-77F) for 12-18 hours.
You can time your biga to fit around your life. Just add more yeast to speed it up and also use temperature. Cooler climates will slow down the fermentation process. I will often put biga in the fridge for a couple of hours if it is almost ready and I'm not ready to start making the dough.
2) Prepare the ingredients
The next day, weigh the ingredients. Add the biga to the water in a large mixing bowl. Now add all the ingredients, excluding the 2nd water and the olive oil, to the bowl or a dough mixer.
Once the biga’s gluten structure is visible and there are large bubbles appearing on the top it is ready to use.
3) Mix the dough slowly
Using a dough scraper (or your hand in a claw shape) in a circular motion, mix the dough to evenly distribute all the ingredients. After a minute or two, take the dough out of the bowl and stretch it slowly on a worktop. Continue this for 5 minutes. Return to the mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a bag and place it in the fridge for 10 minutes
Using a dough mixer:
Mix for 6 minutes at a slow speed. The dough should feel soft and have visible long gluten but it wont be very strong.
4) Knead fast
Take the dough back to the worktop and knead for 10 minutes. Start off slowly and gradually get more intense. the stretch, slap and fold technique shown in the video is preferred here. Cover again and place back in the fridge for another 10 minutes.
5) Add the second water and the olive oil
Remove the dough from the fridge and knead fast for 7 minutes on the table. Put the dough back in the bowl and add the second water. Keep folding the dough into the water, it may take a while but it will absorb!. After the water is incorporated, add the olive oil with the same method and knead a couple of minutes more on the table. The dough should look smooth, even and strong.
6) Bulk fermentation (first rise)
Put the dough back in the bowl, cover and take a temperature reading. If it’s above 26C (79F) and it’s warmer than this in the room, put it in the fridge for 1 hour. If it’s cooler than this, leave it on the worktop for the same amount of time.
7) Stretch and fold
Complete a stretch and fold, or simply knock back the dough and return to the bowl.
8) Bulk fermentation continues…
Take a temperature check, if above 28C (82F) put it in the fridge, if it’s under, the kitchen table is fine. Leave to rest, covered for another hour.
9) Repeat the stretch and fold
Complete another stretch and fold or knock back, but this time flour the worktop before hand and after the stretch and fold, let the dough rest in a square shape on the table.
10) Bench rest
Left to rest for 20 minutes on the worktop.
Divide into two equal weights of 650g. Try to keep the square shape, so there is no need to mould. Just divide and position them onto a lightly dusted board or peel.
You can make small focaccia with the pane casereccio dough. Divide the dough into 100g pieces instead of 650g, shape into balls and leave to rest for 10-20 minutes. Next stretch them out and add toppings. Drizzle some olive oil over and bake straight onto the baking stone of the 220C (430F) oven for around 20 minutes. Use the top oven and grill settings for a more golden colour if you wish.
12) Final rise
Leave them to proof for 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours. Preheat the oven with a baking stone and a lipped baking sheet below it to 250C (480F).
13) Use the poke test
Use the poke test to judge when they are ready to bake. When ready, transfer them onto a peel by sliding one underneath.
14) Score the dough
Cut using a bakers lame with a square design, 2 inches away from the edge.
Slide the loaves into the oven using the peel. Add a cup of hot water to the tray below to create steam (oven gloves should be worn to prevent burning yourself) and quickly shut the door. Turn down the temperature to 220C (430F) and bake for 35-40 minutes. Open the door after 20 minutes to release some of the steam.
Once the bread has turned a nice light golden colour, use a peel to remove it and allow to cool. You can bake it for longer if you want deeper aromas.
How to make pane casserecio video tutorial
Nutritional information per loaf
Calories: 1440kcal | Carbohydrates: 287g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 18mg