Anna del Conte (interviewed in the first issue of virtuousbread.com) gave me this recipe. She says they should be as “light as air”when you break them open.
500 grams plain white wheat flour
2.5 g instant yeast/5 g dry yeast/10 g fresh yeast
1.5 tsp malt syrup if you can get it. Substitute honey if you cannot.
250 ml water
30 grams good quality lard (or butter)
2 and 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
10 g salt
Mix the water, malt syrup and yeast together. Cover it with a tea towel and let it sit for 10-15 minutes or until the yeast if formed a bubbly beige scum on the top of the water.
Mix all the other ingredients together and then add the yeast mixture and knead by hand for a good 10 minutes.
Pop it gently back into the mixing bowl and let it rise until doubled in size – about 1 and 1/4 hours.
Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces (about 120 g each) and place them on a work surface. Cover them with a damp tea towel and let them rest for 10 minutes. Then flatten each piece into a rectangle 10-12 inches long and 4 inches wide. Roll them up from the short side and place them seam side down on grease proof paper on a baking tray. Let them sit for 1 hour.
Turn them over and slice them from end to end lengthwise almost all the way through.
Bake them in a oven preheated to 425 degrees F (just over 200 degrees C) for 25 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped.
You can use this same recipe to make michetta. For michetta you make 8 round buns and just before you put them in the oven you make 5 slashes from the centre of the bun outwards and bake for the same amount of time.