Dark, isn’t it? …Lariano-style Bread (BBB April 2018)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Lariano-style bread; where are the BBBabe hosts of yesteryear? … that’s right, I’m hosting again; can’t stop waffling and switching; snow?! in April; origins of sourdough; not much is needed to make bread rise; a Bread Baking Babes (BBB) project;

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….

Bread Baking Babes’ Lariano-style bread, April 2018

Lariano-style bread

Here’s how things went:

BBB Lariano-style diary:

12 March 2018, 18:27 It’s almost half way through March and eeeeeeek! Nobody has signed up for April! :stomp: :stomp:

17 March 2018, 18:06 Still nobody?! If nobody claims the spot soon, I might take it and who knows what nightmare I might choose?!

19 March 2018, 16:18 Okay, okay! I will take over April.

Heaven have mercy ! – I’m a Christian martyr, yes, that’s what I am, a Christian martyr! Well, I just have happened to noticed that the deadline for posting the next recipe’s about to expire! Yes, it expires next week, honey!

(With apologies to Tennessee Williams and his fans.)

17:31 Robertson’s Lemony-Fennel bread it is…. I hope I haven’t made any mistakes in transcribing the recipe. I’ve mostly omitted volume measures. I hope that’s not a problem for anyone.

27 March 2018, 17:12 Changing directions! I switched the recipe to Jim Lahey’s Lariano-style bread.

Ha! This is what can happen when I’m in martyr-mode. It’s not as if the others can complain. Very much….

1 April 2018, 08:14 Yikes!! Another sudden change of direction!!

Yup, I’ve changed the recipe AGAIN. But this one is much easier. For the BBBabes in North America anyway. (Is WonderBread sold all over the world? Fiddle-dee-dee!! Who cares? The BBBabes are versatile and will improvise if they can’t find the main ingredient.)

2 April 2018, 15:19 Reason has prevailed. The BBBabes have decreed that I can’t change the recipe three times. So it’s back to Jim Lahey’s recipe….

9 April 2018, 13:10 I imagined that I was going to start making the bread today. But this coughing plague I have refuses to let go (now in day 6…). :stomp: I sure hope I won’t be late for my own party!

In the meantime, as I was wrapped up in zillions of blankets, feeling sorry for myself, we watched a fascinating show on NetFlix: A Cook Abroad, episode 1: Dave Myers’ Egypt. Unsurprisingly, various flatbreads were featured. It’s so cool to see ancient Egyptian wall paintings depicting people making bread. Showing that I didn’t invent natural yeast after all. :lalala:

Shamsi Bread But the section on Shamsi bread (Sun Bread), the 1st leavened bread (naturally leavened, of course), was particularly interesting. Because of the intense heat – hardly any time is required before the dough has risen! Myers asked his host in Luxor how long it takes for the dough to rise. The answer:

“If the sun is hot, very strong, twenty minutes. If the sun is not strong, it takes about forty five minutes.”

The slashing is fascinating too, causing the discs of dough to burst out of their perfect round shape once they are in the oven. (slashing is around 33:46 and the final bread at around 35:41 on the “A Cook Abroad : Dave Myers Egypt” video)

[Shamsi bread] is a round loaf and thick (about 14-18 cm in diameter and 3-4 cm high) and has generally 3-4 bumps on the sides, resulting from incisions performed at the edges of the bread with a stiff straw, just before putting it into the oven. This allows excess fermented gases to escape. […] Today, shamsi bread is mainly made for home consumption.
– Arca del Gusto – Slow Food Foundation, Shamsi Bread/

Ha! Good thing it’s too late for me to switch the April recipe yet again, isn’t it? :lalala:

12 April 2018, 15:41 I have mixed the starter. Wow. It’s stiff!! Fingers crossed that this works….

23:24 Just got home from my rehearsal… no big surprise but the leavener hasn’t even budged. So, because we’d really like to have bread tomorrow, I went ahead and mixed another starter, as per Chad Robertson, to make Tartine Bread tomorrow as well.

13 April 2018, 09:58 It’s a miracle!! Both starters floated!

I made two different bread doughs anyway. We’ll be baking the Tartine loaf later today. Who knows when the Lahey loaf will be ready though?

As I was weighing the starter for the Lariano-style bread, I tried to put just 20gm onto the scale. I really did. But 20gm isn’t very much. Instantly, there was 36gm. Instead of pulling away 16gm, I decided to top it off to use twice the amount of leavener that Lahey suggests. What can go wrong? :lalala:

baking powder biscuits It seemed a shame to throw out the extra bit of leavener. We decided to throw it into baking powder biscuits. Oh my!!! We cannot believe the loft these biscuits got!

10:43 It’s hard to believe how the dough was quite rough looking about an hour ago. Already, even before adding the salt, it had turned into quite a smooth mass. Squooshing in the salt was a breeze.

12:59 The dough is even more beautifully silky with the second turn. Yay.

15:53 I can’t believe it! Both kinds of bread are shaped. It’s looking like we’ll be baking them at the same time!

18:55 We decided to bake them separately. The Tartine loaf just came out of the oven and now the Lahey loaf has begun to bake.

SHRIEK!! Who turned the oven to only 350F?!! And then when questioned, claimed that we ALWAYS bake bread at 350F…. :stomp: :stomp:

20:19 Wow!! What a terrific looking ear! And the bread smells terrific. Rats! I have to be out all day and night tomorrow, so we’re going to try the bread first thing Sunday morning. It looks great! I couldn’t believe how strong the starter was – such a small amount to get such loft!

Whole Wheat sourdough

Here is the recipe we followed:

Lariano-style Bread
based on the recipe for Truccio Saré in The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook by Jim Lahey


  • 35gm room temperature water
  • 5gm 100% hydration starter from fridge
  • 50gm 100% whole wheat flour
  • tiny pinch salt (one or two grains)


  • 20gm leavener (I actually added 40gm – the rest can be used to make biscuits – or fed again to make more bread….)
  • 275gm room temperature water
  • 100gm whole wheat flour, sifted after weighing (reserve the bran for after shaping)
  • 4gm wheat germ
  • 10gm flax seed, finely ground
  • 290gm unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 25gm room temperature water
  • 8gm salt (see salt is salt, right?)
  1. leavener: In the afternoon before baking the bread, put all the leavener ingredients except the salt into a medium-sized bowl. Using your dough whisk (use a wooden spoon if you don’t have a whisk), mix the leavener ingredients until all the flour is incorporated. Put all but 20gm back into the jar in the fridge. Use a wooden spoon (or your hands) to add the pinch of salt to the bowl with the remaining 20 gm of stiff starter. With regards to the tiny pinch of salt, Lahey writes [A] bit of salt will speed up fermentation, but a heavy dose of salt will slow it down. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave overnight in the oven with only the light turned on – until it triples in volume and becomes bubbly and frothy like mousse. Lahey writes [P]repare to wait about 24 hours for it to triple in size. Don’t be dismayed if nothing happens for the first 12 hours—it takes a while to get going, but once the fermentation starts, it will take off, and it is likely to grow more in the final 4 hours than it did in the first 16.
  2. dough: On the morning of the day you will be baking the bread: When a small forkful of the leavener floats in a small bowl of room temperature water, you can go ahead and mix the dough. (If the leavener does not float, stir in a little more whole wheat flour and water – even amounts by weight – cover with a plate and leave for about 30 minutes more. Chances are that it will now float.) Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. (Set the bran aside for after shaping….) Add wheat germ and ground flaxseed to the flour. Pour  275gm (275ml) water. Add all the leavener. Use a wooden spoon or dough whisk to mix these ingredients to make a rough dough. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter for about 40 minutes. In his book, “Tartine Bread”, Chad Robertson says Do not skip the resting period. Working with the nature of the dough, the resting period allows the protein and starch in the flour to absorb the water, swell, and then relax into a cohesive mass.
  3. adding the salt: In a small bowl, whisk the salt into the final 25gm (25 ml) water. Pour the salt mixture over the dough.
  4. kneading: Use one of your hands to squoosh the salt and water into the dough; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first the dough might be a bit messy and seem like it’s coming apart. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem more like dough than a horrible separated glop. Keep folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth. Cover with a plate and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
  5. stretching and folding: About 30 minutes after adding the salt, run your dough-working hand under water. Reach down along the side of the bowl and lift and stretch the dough straight up and almost out of the bowl. Fold it over itself to the other side of the bowl. Turn the bowl and repeat until it’s a little difficult to stretch the dough up any more. You’ll notice that the dough feels significantly smoother. Cover with a plate and leave on the counter (or if the kitchen is cool like ours in winter and early spring, into the oven with only the light turned on) for about 30 minutes.
  6. Repeat the above step 2 or 3 more times (Again, in “Tartine Bread”, Robertson says it should be done 4 times in all). Robertson writes “[N]otice how the dough starts to get billowy, soft, and aerated with gas. At this later stage, you should turn the dough more gently to avoid pressing gas out of the dough. […] A well-developed dough is more cohesive and releases from the sides of the bowl when you do the turns. The ridges left by the turn will hold their shape for a few minutes. You will see a 20 to 30 percent increase in volume. More air bubbles will form along the sides of the container. These are all signs that the dough is ready to be […] shaped”
  7. prepare the brot-form: Put rice flour into a brotform and distribute it as evenly as possible. (If you don’t have a brot-form, you can line a bowl, basket or sieve with parchment paper – this is what I did, because the Tartine loaf went into the brotform. You can also use a liberally rice floured tea towel (but then you have to deal with a floured tea towel once the bread is baked). If you do not have rice flour, you can use wheat flour. However, it makes it significantly more difficult for the bread to be released from the basket….
  8. shaping: Scatter a dusting of wheat flour on the board and gently place the dough on the flour. Using wet hands, stretch the dough into a longish rectangle, then fold it like a letter, gently patting off any extra flour that might be there. Continue folding until the dough is shaped in a ball. Place it seam side UP in the well floured (rice) brot-form. Sprinkle the reserved bran evenly over the top of the bread. Loosely wrap the shaped loaf with a clean tea towel and enclose the whole thing inside a plastic bag and leave it in the oven with only the light turned on for 3 or 4 hours (until it has about doubled and there are bubbles).
  9. baking: To know when it’s time to bake, run your index finger under water and gently but firmly press it on the side of the bread. If the dough springs back immediately, recover the bread with the plastic bag and leave it in the oven with only the light turned on. If the dough gradually returns back after being pressed, for the round loaf, put combo cooker (or a cast-iron frying pan and stainless steel bowl) into the oven and preheat all to 425F.
  10. When the oven is preheated about fifteen minutes later, put a square of parchment paper on the counter (the paper should be large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the frying pan). Overturn the shaped bread onto the parchment paper (the bran covered part will now be on the bottom). Using a lame (or scissors, or serrated knife), score the bread with a single line in the center. Take the pan and bowl out of the oven (wear oven mitts!!) and place the frying pan on the stove (to prevent burning your countertop…). Transfer the bread to the middle of the frying pan and immediately put the lid of the combo-cooker (or stainless steel bowl) overtop like a hat. Put everything into the oven on the middle rack and immediately turn the oven down to 400F. Bake for 60-80 minutes in all, removing the hat half-way through baking. The bread is done when the crust is a deep golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. In The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook, Jim Lahey writes:
    I urge you to let the bread cook, uncovered, until the top of the bread nearly blackens and the sides reach a shockingly dark brown—the flavors of such a well-done truccio crust are simply outstanding. […] [Y]ou’ll know it is done baking because it will feel lighter, it will sound hollow when you knock on the bottom, and the crust will begin to crackle quietly like logs in a fire.
  11. cooling: When the bread has finished baking, remove it from the pan and allow it to cool on a footed rack before slicing and eating; the bread is still cooking internally when first removed from the oven! If you wish to serve warm bread (of course you do), reheat it after it has cooled completely: To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.

At the end of the recipe for Truccio Saré, Jim Lahey writes:
Toasted, dripping with olive oil and red wine vinegar, and dusted with a bit of salt, it’s messy and delicious and is the most wonderful way to begin a meal. The malty, chocolaty notes of the crust also make this bread the best friend of wines, jams, and soft-ripened cheeses.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


:: salt There’s a good reason to weigh the salt, rather than use volume measures. For more raving about this, please see Salt is salt, right?

:: leavener I confess that I did NOT follow my own instructions and I went ahead and mixed the leavener as per Lahey’s instructions. When it came to using it to mix the actual dough, I added 40gm (instead of 20gm) to the dough – because 20 gm looked like such a tiny amount. If you want to be truly intrepid, do as Lahey says, not as I do….

The starter for creating the leavener is 100% hydration. It takes about 5 days to create. (Please see our take on Jane Mason’s Natural Starter made with Wheat Flour.)
If you’re too afraid (or don’t have time) to take five days to make a natural starter and still want to bake this bread by using commercial yeast, use the following for the leavener:

  • pinch active dry yeast
  • 6gm (6 ml) water, at body temperature
  • 14 whole wheat flour

The night before mixing the dough for the bread,  dissolve yeast into the water before kneading in the flour. This will create a very stiff mixture. Put this into a smallish bowl.  Cover and leave in the oven with only the light turned on  

:: why hand mixing? These instructions, as usual, do not mention using an electric mixer: I don’t have one; I don’t know how to use one. But of course, if you want to use your electric mixer for mixing and kneading, you should do so.

:: brotform If you do not have a brotform, you can use Lahey’s method for proofing the shaped loaf: he coats a parchment covered cookie sheet with bran, than shapes his loaf into a ball and places it seam side down onto the bran. He scatters a little more bran on top before covering the shaped loaf loosely with a clean tea towel. He lets it sit at room temperature that way until it has almost doubled in size.

:: cooking container If you’re lucky enough to have Le Creuset or a cast-iron combo cooker, of course, you should use that. But if you don’t, do use your cast-iron pan and cover the bread with an overturned stainless steel mixing bowl for the first half of baking. The dome creates a steam chamber that encourages oven spring.

:: oven temperature and baking times Lahey suggests preheating the oven to 450F and baking with the lid on for 35 to 40 minutes. He then takes the lid off (removing the parchment paper at the same time) to bake the bread for a further 5 to 10 minutes, until “the crust has attained at least a rich golden color; if you favor a really dark crust” as Lahey does, “you can go as far as 12 minutes to a deep mahogany


BBB Lariano-style
BBB Lariano-style

We could not believe how wonderful the crust is. The crumb was also terrific. Lahey is right; this bread is fabulous with Lentil soup!

lentil soup

Bread Baking Babes BBB: Let's Get Baking

My dad always said it was important to establish blame. Blame the other BBBabes for allowing me to go nuts by changing and switching the recipe for April 2018’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. If they didn’t want me to do that, one of the others could have jumped in to host. :lalala:

But. Lariano-style bread is delicious! And We know you’ll want to make it! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make Lariano-style Bread – remember that it only takes 5 days to create a starter – in the next couple of weeks and post about it (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 April 2018.

Here’s how to let us know:

  • email me
    » Remember to include your name and a link to your post
    » Please type “BBB April 2018 bread” in the subject heading

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please email if you want to be included.

If you don’t have a blog or flickr-like account, no problem; we still want to see and hear about your bread! Please email me with the details, so your walnut bread can be included in the roundup too.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ April 2018 Lariano-style Bread.


April snow

Saturday’s highway driving north from the city in the afternoon was pretty awful. The drive back home after the concert, that mysteriously was NOT cancelled due to severe weather conditions, was horrendous.

Remind me why we live in Canada where it rains then snows then rains ice some more so heavily after Easter….

edit 1 May 2018: I’m happy to report that the snow has melted at last (I hope I didn’t jinx anything there!), the forsythia is just about to bloom, and the followup report about Lariano-style bread is here: Darkness in April (BBBuddies – errm – BBBuddy, April 2018)


12 responses to “Dark, isn’t it? …Lariano-style Bread (BBB April 2018)

  1. Karen

    Look at those holes in the crumb! And your loaf is so lofty!! I’m so glad you changed your mind. This one is a keeper. Thanks for jumping the queue!

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      The crust really is the best part. And yes, it went very well with the soup made with plain old yellow lentils. I think the red tone in the soup was from the chopped smoked sausage.

      Ha. But now I want to try your tomato, bacon and red lentil soup!

      1. Kelly

        I could have sworn I replied, but maybe not. Or maybe replying through the email comment notification doesn’t show here. But just in case, here is my soup – I hope you get some better spring weather this week!!

        edit: That looks delicious. Thank you, Kelly! – Elizabeth

  2. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    I’m glad you changed your mind so many times and show it here. We all do that, just proves we’re passionate about bread! We enjoyed this bread, I didn’t get the loft you did but the taste is fabulous. And the book, well, I love reading how he writes about bread and Gorn will forever be asking for the Pane di Lino.
    Great crumb and crust you got.
    Your weather, well I guess I have no explanation.

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      I’m so relieved that at least one person doesn’t mind that I had so much difficulty making up my mind. We chopped the last little bit of this bread up into cubes and turned it into the most fabulous stove-top stuffing to go with roast chicken. I almost want to bake the bread, just so we can make that stuffing again!

      I’m blown away by Lahey’s starter – who knew that it would work with that little bit of salt in it?! (Must try the Pane di Lino! Thanks for the heads up.)

  3. katiezel

    I have always made bread by hand – cookies and cakes with the mixer, but bread by hand…. It’s great for toning the arms lol
    Why did you spill flour all over your lawn? Oh, that’s not flour??!!?
    Your bread looks lovely – and is a hit with the Babes!

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      Thank you, Katie. We’re planning to have mock Bennies today with the last of the Lariano-style bread. This will be a.) good and b.) distract us nicely from that white stuff outside.

      I DON’T know what was in my head to throw all that flour on the ground. It’s way too expensive! I’m trying to clear it away now… Removal efforts have been very slow but I’m hoping to make major headway on the weekend. It’s so much more satisfying to tone the arms with kneading than with shovelling. The return is so much more satisfying….

      1. katiezel

        Today I planted lettuce sets, which the bunnies promptly ate, and seeds, which I have hope for as well as onions, spinach, chard, and herbs. I just wanted you to know that somewhere spring has arrived….Not to make you jealous of course, just to give you hope. (She says, smiling benignly)

        1. Elizabeth Post author

          What an angel you are!

          Yesterday morning, we were determined to have fresh chives to garnish our mock bennies. So I ventured out into the sort of melting mess to clip off the tips of chives that are valiantly growing out of a little pot by the back door. Maybe, just maybe, spring will arrive here too.

          I’m sorry to hear that the bunnies ate all your lettuce. That’s just greedy of them!

  4. Bread Experience

    This was a great choice Elizabeth! Thank you so much for hosting us again. I believe your waffling paid off! This one is definitely a keeper!

    edit: Yay! I’m so glad you like it, Cathy! -Elizabeth


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