In true Italian fashion (think of "Everyone Loves Raymond") my parents live across the street from us. There are many good things about this set up, and I would say that I benefit greatly from them being close by. I think they enjoy seeing their grandsons often, but it creates way more chaos, noise, and a higher food bill for them :) But, it is nice to be able to share the love with them, and as soon as my bread had cooled enough to cut into I was walking across the street with a few slices for them to try. They agreed it tasted pretty authentic and was just like the scali bread we buy at the grocery store. My parents are much nicer than Ray Romano's.....
Anyways, here is the recipe, right from KAF, and a picture of my finished loaf. I did find that my logs were too long so my finished loaf was a big long (or perhaps braided too tightly). But it didn't affect the taste one bit!
Please note - you have make the starter the night before since it needs to sit for several hours!
Scali Bread Recipe from KAF
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/3 to 1/2 cup cool water, enough to make a stiff ball of dough
pinch of instant yeast
all of the starter
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons Baker's Special dry milk or nonfat dry milk
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2/3 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1) To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients together, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight. Note: This is a dry, stiff starter. If it's too dry to come together, it may be that you measure your flour differently than we do here at King Arthur, or that you're in a particularly dry climate. Dribble in sufficient water to make the dough come together, and proceed with the recipe as directed.
2) To make the dough: Combine the starter with the remaining dough ingredients, and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, smooth dough.
3) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or large (8-cup) measure; cover, and let it rise for about 90 minutes, till it's just about doubled in bulk.
4) To make one large loaf: Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a rough log, and let the logs rest, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. This gives the gluten in the dough a chance to relax, which in turn will make the logs easier to roll.
5) Working on a lightly greased surface, roll each log into a rope about 24" long. Brush each rope with the egg white/water, and sprinkle heavily with the sesame seeds, rolling the ropes gently in the seeds to pick up as many as possible.
6) Grab one end of each rope, and squeeze the ends together firmly. Braid the ropes, tucking the ends under to make a neat braided loaf.
7) To make rolls: Follow the directions above, but divide the dough into six pieces, rather than three. Roll each piece into a thin rope about 28" long. Take three of the ropes, and coat with seeds and braid as directed above. Repeat with the remaining three ropes. The resulting loaves will be about 18" long.
8) Cut each braid into six 3" rolls. Squeeze the cut ends together to seal, and tuck them under.
9) Place the loaf on a large, parchment-lined (or lightly greased) baking sheet. Or space the rolls on a baking sheet. Cover the loaf or rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow to rise till very puffy, about 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
10) Bake the loaf for about 25 to 35 minutes, till it's a deep golden brown. The rolls will need to bake for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack.
Yield: one large loaf, or 12 rolls.
Note from frugal me- Sesame seeds can be expensive when purchased in the baking aisle in a little spice jar, so I recommend buying it from the bulk bins. I got mine at the Co-op and they cost less than $1. You can also get them at Stern's for those of you who live locally. They will keep longer if you store them in the fridge or freezer.