In honor of my daughter starting her doctorate of physical therapy program at Boston University, instead of challah, I made Scali Bread this week. Scali bread (1 loaf is a Scala, rhymes with challah) is an Italian bread popular in the Boston area.
This was one of the nicest doughs I have ever worked with and the texture of the bread itself is light and airy with a crisp crust.
from King Arthur Four
1 cup 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 unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons 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
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 dribble in sufficient water to make the dough come together, and proceed with the recipe as directed.)
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.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl; cover, and let it rise for about 90 minutes, till it’s just about doubled in bulk.
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.
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.
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.
Place the loaf on a large, parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the loaf with lplastic wrap, and allow to rise till very puffy, about 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
Bake the loaf for about 25 to 35 minutes, till it’s a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack. Enjoy!