Rustic Italian Bread and Roasted Red Peppers

8:41 AM

It seems winter would be early this year, not that am complaining but definitely worried about the erratic behaviour of the weather. Last year hardly there was any day when the temperature dropped below the usual and this year it's not even Diwali but there is a quite visible nip in the air around the evening time. And as usual like every other year it makes my heart happy. 

The drop in temperature never fails to warm my heart and to instill a sense of coziness. its almost like I can feel the urgency in the air to tidy up the house, make it fuzzy and warm for our family cuddle time.Though this year is very hard for us but as much as I miss Maa, the loss makes me embrace my family and be grateful for everyday like no other. It makes count my blessings everyday and fills me with gratitude.
New MArket Haul
As they say, often simplest things are the best following that I made this Harvest meal for my family. It was a concept which I saw on some travel channel where people in Italy harvest the last of their veggies on the onset of fall and enjoy it around a large table with family and friends. The dishes were simple and rustic, a loaf of bread, few of Summers bounty fried in olive oil with tomatoes and large bowls of fragrant salad. I knew I needed to celebrate the same when on a recent visit to New Market I found fresh fennel bulbs and very very fresh red peppers and other veggies. So I made a rustic quick bread, roasted red peppers, Italian harvest veggies with chicken and some fennel and orange salad. Am sharing the bread and roasted pepper recipe today hope you will enjoy this.

Rustic Italaian bread

All purpose flour: 4 cups
Instant yeast: 2 tsp
salt: 11/2 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Warm water: 11/2 cups (More or Less)
Oil: few drops to grease the bowl

Take 1 cup of the warm water and mix in the sugar, stir to dissolve and the add the yeast and mix.
Mix salt with flower and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast water and mix. Add more water as much needed to make a medium soft dough. Once all the flour comes into a dough, cover it with a damp tea towel or a bowl and rest it for 10 minutes.
Now clean your counter top and start kneading the dough. Stretch the dough on your counter and gather and throw it on the counter a few times. This will activate the gluten and you will see the dough turning from medium soft to a  silky smooth texture. Continue kneading for at least 8-10 minutes or until you see the dough springs back when poked with your finger. Oil a deep bowl and place the dough in it.Cover and let it proof and double in size for 11/2 hours.
Prepare two baking pans by dusting  generous amount of flour and also keep a baking pan (cake pan or something like that) handy.

When the bread doubles in size lightly release the gas and cut it in half. On a well floured surface spread the dough by stretching to a big rectangle of 10x8. Fold the shorter sides towards the middle.and press to secure the two ends. Again bring the two sides together and pinch the ends to secure it tightly. Make sure you do it properly or while baking, the seams will open and you will end up with a lopsided loaf. Sprinkle and dust the top of each bread with lots of whole wheat flour. Place the loaves on some baking paper which is sprinkled well with flour, cover with a flower dusted dry towel or a shower cap. keep aside for another one hour or till they increase in size.

During the end of this time pre heat your oven at 220C with the baking pans on the middle rack and the cake tin on the lower rack. 
Once you are ready to bake Make three slits using a very shap knife or blade on each of the loaves. This will help to escape the steam during baking. Nowcarefully take out the hot baking pans and place the baking papers with the breads on it. Place them in the middle rack of the oven
Pour 3/4 cup of water in the cake tin and close the oven door. It will sizzle but do not worry. This steam along with the hot baking tin will create a nice crust and open crumbs with big holes.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or till the bottom when tapped sounds hollow.
Cool on a wire rack and then slice and enjoy

Oven Roasted red peppers

Red peppers: 4
Olive oil
Garlic 3-4 cloves

Cover a baking pan with aluminium foil.
Grease the red peppers well. Bake along with the cloves of garlic in a 220C pre heated oven till the skins are blistered and charred. Make sure to turn them 2-3 times for even charring. It would take approximately 25-30 minutes.

Once done take them out and place in a deep bowl. Cover and let it sweat and steam. This will ease out the peeling of the skin much easier.
Peel the skin and slice in long strips.

In a big glass jar place the strips with some salt and the roasted garlics. Pour some good quality olive oil on top. If prefer you can also sprinkle some chilli flakes on top. 
Tastes best after 12 hours as the flavours get time to mature and the oil turns a beautiful hue of coral with the seeping ruby red juices from the peppers.
Serve with hot out of the oven bread.

A Homemaker's Tips:
1. To keep the extra bread, wrap it in cling wrap and fridge.
2. The roasted peppers stays well if preserved in oil for 3-4 days in fridge.

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  1. I can't take my eyes of from that bread.. superb.

  2. Which shop sells fennel bulb in new market? Plz let me know.


  3. The bread looks just like the ones you get at the Italian restaurants!!

  4. The bread looks perfect with a beautiful crumb! The whole meal sounds so delicious! Loved the pictures too.


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