Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Scali Bread

This shiny, mahogany-brown braid is heavily coated with sesame seeds, giving it nutty flavor and a lovely appearance. Serve it with your pasta, or slice it for sandwiches; it’s a fixture of Boston-area bakeries and supermarkets. P.S. Step-by-step photos illustrating how to make scali bread are available at Bakers’ Banter, our King Arthur blog.


Starter
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) cool water
pinch of instant yeast

Mix together, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.

Dough
all of the starter
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons (3/8 ounce) Baker’s Special dry milk or nonfat dry milk
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2/3 cup (5 1/4 ounces) lukewarm water
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) olive oil

Topping
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) sesame seeds
1 large egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water

To make the starter: Mix the 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup water, and yeast in a medium-sized bowl. Cover, and set aside to rest and rise overnight.

To make the dough: Combine the starter with the remaining dough ingredients, and mix and knead—by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle—to make a soft, smooth dough. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for about 90 minutes, till it's just about doubled in bulk.

Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a rough log, and let the logs rest, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. This gives the gluten in the dough a chance to relax, which in turn will make the logs easier to roll.

Working on a lightly greased surface, roll each log into a rope about 24" long. Brush each rope with the egg white/water, and sprinkle heavily with the sesame seeds, rolling the ropes gently in the seeds to pick up as many as possible. Grab one end of each rope, and squeeze the ends together firmly. Braid the ropes, tucking the ends under to make a neat braided loaf. Cover the braid with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow it to rise till it’s very puffy, about 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Bake the braid for about 25 to 35 minutes, till it’s a deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and cool on a rack.
Yield: one large loaf.

©2007 The King Arthur Flour Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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