There’s nothing like crusty bread, fresh from the oven. In a perfect world, I would bake fresh bread every day, just to smell it. The thing is, I am particular about my bread, demanding the right crumb and crust for each kind I make. This often translates into long hours of proofing and kneading and rising. I don’t always have time for this labor of love, so I was thrilled when I came across this recipe, which makes a fabulous filoncino in a snap.
Filoncino is the Italian cousin of France’s long and airy baguette. This quick recipe, adapted from No Need to Knead: Handmade Italian Breads in 90 Minutes, yields three loaves of rustic artisan bread with a wonderfully crispy crust.
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (85 to 95°F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup roughly chopped Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons olive paste*
3/4 cup Kalmata olive brine
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
* Olive paste can be made by putting 2 cups pitted Kalamata olives in a blender and puréeing until smooth, but still textured. Alternatively, you can finely chop just enough olives to give the 2 tablespoons required for this recipe.
Measure the water into a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and whisk to dissolve. Stir in 2 1/4 cups of the flour, salt, olives, and olive paste. Stir until smooth, about 2 minutes. Using a wooden spoon or bread dough tool, stir in the remaining 2 1/4 cups of flour and the brine. The dough wil be fairly wet and sticky, about the consistency of a very thick batter. If the dough seems too wet, add an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 30 to 45 minutes.
With a scraper or spatula, fold the dough by gently lifting it up from underneath and turning or folding it over on itself three or four times. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise a second time in a warm place until again doubled in volume, 30 to 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 500°F. Spray a three-loaf baguette pan with nonstick spray or rub with olive oil.
Hold the bowl and tip it over the opening of a groove and pour the dough along and into the groove by loosening the dough with a spatula. Carefully move along the groove as the dough pours, keeping it as inflated as possible. With the spatula, cut the dough off at the rim of bowl as it falls into the groove.
The dough should form a nice, rounded cylinder that fills the groove and stands about 1/2 inch above the rim of the pan. Fill the other two grooves. Brush the tops of loaves with the olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Place the pan in the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 400°F. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops are browned and the loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove baguettes from the pan and return them to the oven, placing them directly on the oven rack (or baking stone) for about 5 minutes. Cool on wire racks.