L'Otto di Merano gets its name from its shape, two balls of dough baked together to resemble a figure eight. I'm not sure about the figure eight resemblance (see below), however, this bread is super soft and moist, and the dough is supple and really easy to handle and shape.
It makes wonderful sandwiches and toast, and is tasty with smoked salmon or melted cheese. I love toasting it and topping it with a fried egg, salt, and pepper.
The relatively small amount of rye flour is incorporated into a starter, and left to ferment overnight at room temperature to develop flavor. The recipe also calls for a smaller amount of yeast, requiring a longer rising time, which also helps develop flavor.
This month, the Bread Baking Babes' kitchen of the month belongs to Elizabeth of blog from Our kitchen, where she recounts her hilarious adventures. She challenged the Babes with this L'Otto di Merano, which she adapted from Carol Field's The Italian Baker. Elizabeth used crushed malted rye berries in her starter, but says that barley malt is just fine.
You can bake along as a buddy, even if you don't have a blog. Visit Elizabeth's post for more details.
The Babes are:
blog from OUR kitchen - Elizabeth
Bread Experience - Cathy
Feeding my Enthusiasms - Pat/Elle
girlichef - Heather
Judy's Gross Eats - Judy
Karen's Kitchen Stories - Karen
My Diverse Kitchen - Aparna
My Kitchen In Half Cups - Tanna
Notitie Van Lien - Lien
Thyme for Cooking - Katie (Bitchin’ Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire)
Life's a Feast - Jamie
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies - Natashya
Lucullian Delights - Ilva
L'Otto di Merano Recipe
300 g water at 100 degrees F
1/8 tsp active dry or instant yeast
1 Tbsp/21 grams barley malt syrup
75 g dark rye flour
100 g unbleached all purpose flour
All of the starter
60 g water, plus more if the dough is too dry
1/2 tsp active dry or instant yeast
27 grams/2 Tbsp olive oil or lard
400 g unbleached all purpose flour (see Elizabeth's recipe for incorporating whole wheat and flax)
10 g Kosher salt
2.5/1 1/4 tsp caraway seeds
- The night before baking the bread, in a medium bowl, mix the yeast and barley malt into the water, and let sit for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the starter ingredients and mix with a spoon until incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature over night.
- The next day, dissolve the yeast into the rest of the water. If you are using instant yeast, this step isn't necessary (just add it and the extra water to the starter without mixing). Add the mixture to the starter.
- Scrape the starter into the bowl of a stand mixer, and add the lard or olive oil to the bowl. Mix with the paddle attachment until blended. Switch to the dough hook and add the rest of the ingredients and mix until the dough is smooth, about 4 minutes. Add additional water if necessary. The dough should be soft and supple, but not sticky.
- Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 2 to 3 hours.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a ball. Place the shaped balls snugly next to each other on the parchment paper, and cover with a tea towel. Let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the tea towel and spray the dough lightly with water. Place the baking sheet in the oven on the middle rack (use a baking stone if you have one) and bake the loaf for about 40 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.