A bread from Calabria, the toe part of the Italian boot-shaped peninsula. Crusty, full of great flavors and vegetables, it makes a superb accompaniment to any meal, particularly soups and salads.

Piccia Calabrese (Calabrian Bread)
Recipe type: Breads and Rolls
Serves: 1 loaf
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 Cup warm water
  • 1 1/4 Cups biga
  • 2 Tablespoons lard
  • 2 Tablespoons sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons canned tomatoes with juices
  • small anchovy fillets; boned and chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon capers; drained and chopped
  • 6 small cocktail onions; chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons artichokes; finely chopped
  • 3 gherkins; chopped
  • 2 roasted red peppers; chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour; unbleached
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons cracked black pepper
  1. Refrigerate the Biga until cold. stir the yeast into the water in a small bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Saute the mushrooms briefly in the oil and let cool.
  3. Roughly chop the tomato, mushrooms, anchovy, capers, onions, artichoke, pickles, and red peppers in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Remove to another bowl. Process the oregano, flour, salt, and pepper with 5 or 6 pulses to mix.
  4. Place the cold starter and the lard over the dry ingredients. With the machine running pour the dissolved yeast through the feed tube as quickly as the flour can absorb it. Add the vegetable mixture and process just until combined.
  5. Finish kneading by hand on a well-floured surface, sprinkling with 1/2 to 2/3 cup additional flour as needed, until elastic, moist, and velvety.
  6. First Rise: Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Shaping and Second Rise: Shape the dough on a floured surface into 1 large or 2 smaller round loaves by rolling the dough first into a taut log, then shaping it into a round loaf. The dough will be slightly sticky; sprinkle the dough and the work surface with flour while shaping it. Place each loaf on a peel sprinkled with cornmeal, cover with a slightly dampened towel, and let rise until doubled, about 50 minutes.
  8. Baking: Thirty minutes before baking, heat the oven with baking stones in it to 425 degrees F. Just before baking, cut an even slash around the shoulder of the loaf or 3 slashes across the top with a razor. Sprinkle the stones with cornmeal and slide the loaves onto the stones. Bake, spraying 3 times with water in the first 10 minutes, for 45 minutes. Cool on racks.
Recipe by: Carol Field - The Italian Baker

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