Hey!! Didn’t I just choose the recipe a couple of months ago?! Talk about jumping the queue!
Initially, there were two recipes that I was thinking about. One is in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s fabulous book “The Bread Bible” and the other is in Laurel Robertson’s book “Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book”.
I fell head over heels in love with this rustic bread at my first dinner at The French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, California, in Napa Valley. […] It is down-to-earth, dense, wheaty, crunchy with sees, and wonderfully wholesome, with a distinctly sour depth of flavor
– Rose Levy Beranbaum, sourdough wheat bread with seeds, The Bread Bible, p466
The Lemon and fennel combination make a delicate, buttery, light and tender loaf.
– Laurel Robertson, lemony fennel bread Laurel’s Kitchen Bread book p.239 (Fruit, Nuts and Seeds)
I was leaning towards Beranbaum’s recipe but the others were excited about Laurel Robertson’s lemony bread. So for a few seconds, that’s what was chosen. And then…
When I innocently told T about the choice for April, he blurted out, “Ewwww!”. And the real waffling began!
Not long ago, we read Rachel Roddy’s wonderful book “My Kitchen in Rome” and were entranced by her description of Lariano bread. But she doesn’t include a recipe for it. However, Jim Lahey was also inspired by Lariano bread and has created a recipe.
In the morning, if you stand near the front door, as I did every morning for five years to make coffee, it is the smell of bread, thick, yeasty waves of it, that creeps under the front door. […] My favorite [bread] is pane di Lariano; naturally leavened, it has a chewy crumb that’s slightly sour, a good crust and a bottom hard enough to tap a tune on […] Whichever bread Romans choose to buy, or indeed make, it is central to the way they eat, so much so that it’s taken for granted and is noticed only by its absence. […] It is nourishment that predates pasta in Rome by centuries; More often than not, bread is the first thing to arrive on the table, usually in a basket lined with a napkin, and the last thing to be removed. It is nourishment that predates pasta in Rome by centuries; an accompaniment; a utensil (when the dish permits, many Romans eat with a fork and a crust of bread); and the agent of the final swipe, or scarpetta, of most plates. Quite simply, a meal is unthinkable without bread.
– Rachel Roddy, My Kitchen in Rome, p 67
There is a town outside of Rome called Lariano. It grows a special kind of wheat, known as Lariano wheat, and the bread made in this town uses whole wheat Lariano flour. It is a dusky gray and has a peculiar grit to it. […] You can however, make [the bread] with ordinary whole wheat flour, and it will still have an awesome, complex, earthy flavor. […] My absolute favorite part is the crust. At a very high temperature, when the crust browns so thoroughly that it is just beginning to blacken in places, the whole wheat begins to caramelize. The flavors that result are out of this world—a sweet, chewy tangle of wheat, coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel.
– Jim Lahey, Truccio Saré (whole wheat sourdough), The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook, p93
How could we resist a “chewy tangle of wheat, coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel”? I didn’t even ask T what he thought. I knew he’d be thrilled….