Pane di Como

Crusty Italian bread with chewy soft interior- a lovely bread for sandwiches and for dunking in soups! 

There are days when everything seems to be going against you. Like when the train comes late and your phone breaks down and events change venue last minute and you're lost with no contact. The worst thing is that rather depressing days loom ahead- first week of a new school, getting back dreaded results, possibly hanging out with people that I'm awkward with, trying maybe to make new friends and settle in, having to get back on track with my attitude, mndset and goals and settling back into the busier life. 

For me, change has always been hard. I'd like to think of myself as determined- determined to get things done, to change things, to have things under control, and determined to achieve my goals and aspirations. I'll always remember the time when I was failing science in P6 right before my exams and I refused to take tuition classes. I guess that was both stubbornness and pride. But I was so determined to prove everyone else wrong that I worked doubly hard to improve my science grades- working on as many practice papers as I could find, reviewing my answers, recording down common mistakes aand misconceptions in a notebook (that I still keep today), and setting aside a few hours every weekend just to do science. My hardwork did pay off, and the failure and mistakes I make these days still make me feel disheartened, but also more motivated to prove myself wrong. 

Anyway, here's a delicious Pane di Como- an Italian bread from a town in Italy called Como. It's made with a starter of flour, water, milk and yeast that sits overnight to ferment, and then the actual dough is made the next day with more flour and salt. It's really easy to put together and fits easily in my schedule. If you prefer to, you can even spread this process over three days- make the starter on day 1, make the actual dough on day 2, let it bulk ferment overnight, then shape and give it the last prove before baking. It really isn't difficult to do- it just needs a little planning, and you really can fit in bread baking into your everyday life. Don't let the bread decide your timetable.

Pane di Como 
Adapted from The Italian Baker cookbook 

Makes 1 large round loaf 

1/2 tsp instant dry yeast 
3g (scant 1/2 tsp) malt syrup or powder 
40g warm water 
80g room temperature milk 
65g all purpose flour 

Combine starter ingredients, cover and let stand at room temperature till bubbly, at least 4h but preferably overnight. 

240g water 
430g all purpose flour 
7.5g/ 1 1/2 tsp salt 

Combine dough ingredients with all of the starter, knead till the dough is elastic but still moist and tacky. Let rise till doubled, about 1 1/2h in a well oiled bowl, covered, or overnight in the fridge. 
Shape the dough into a round, place into a oiled and floured 8 inch banneton. Cover and let rise until doubled and risen to the top, about 1h. 
Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven with a baking stone in it to 200 degrees Celsius. Just before baking, sprinkle the stone with cornmeal. Carefully invert the dough onto the stone, bake the loaf sounds hollow when the bottom is tapped, about 1h. 

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