It is the most enjoyable, de-stressing, relaxing and working out at the same time, kitchen experience I always look forward to.
If you think of it, interestingly and entertainingly, with all the careful and smooth mixing, rhythmic kneading and shaping, it definitely seems like Tai Chi, but of course in the kitchen!
A bit about the bread -
Traditionally, this is a long loaf of bread, but I baked it as a big bun. It has a delicate, crispy crust and a fine crumb that gives it its name, Mantovana, from Mantua in Lombardy, Italy.
The double rising produces a light, even texture. Be careful not to over – rise the bread, it might collapse when placed in the hot oven. Do not leave the dough for more than 40 minutes for its second rising.
Goes great with sliced Parma ham or country Salami.
Sponge Method Time
About 20 minutes
1 1/2 hour
200 deg Centigrade
Make sure you have all the ingredients ready, and only then should you start.
Refined Flour, wholemeal flour (wheat flour), warm water, salt, olive oil, and yeast.
Line the oven tray with a butter paper or grease it with some no-salt butter.
Place the dough ball in the center of the paper, cover with a sieve and a moist tea cloth / kitchen cloth and allow it to prove for 15 minutes.
Once the proving is done, with a sharp knife, make a cross on the dough, about 1 cm deep, and just on the top of the dough. Do not cut the dough till the base, as it would open up completely while baking.
Bake in a pre-heated oven for 45 minutes, until golden and hollow sounding when tapped underneath.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Do not add the entire amount of water to the dough, hold back some in case the dough is soft enough already. If you end up adding all the water at a time and it turns out a bit too soft to handle, then you would have to add flour, which wouldn't give you the best results for the bread. Hence even if it turns out to be a bit dry, you can always add that extra water.
The dough for this bread is definitely a lot softer and mushier than the other bread doughs, so once you add the water to the flour, do not doubt it if you have got it right.