If you’re a bread lover looking to try something new, look no further than the delicious and aromatic scali bread. This traditional Italian recipe will transport your taste buds to the streets of Naples with its crusty exterior and soft, chewy interior. Whether your goal is to impress your guests or simply enjoy a homemade loaf of bread, the scali bread recipe is a delightful choice that will leave you craving more. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to embark on a culinary adventure—this recipe is sure to become a household favorite!
What is Scali Bread?
Scali bread is a beloved type of Italian bread that traces its origins back to the southern region of Italy, specifically Puglia. This bread stands out for its unique characteristics, including a crusty exterior and a soft, chewy interior. Its popularity has spread worldwide, and it has become a favorite among bread enthusiasts.
The key ingredients required to make delicious scali bread are flour, yeast, water, salt, and olive oil. These staple ingredients are easily available in your local grocery stores or supermarkets. The amounts needed for this scrumptious bread recipe are:
- 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) of active dry yeast
- 1 cup of warm water (around 110°F/43°C)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
To kickstart the preparation of scali bread, follow these simple steps:
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, active dry yeast, and salt. Mix them well using a whisk or fork to evenly distribute the dry ingredients.
- Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and pour in the warm water and olive oil. A well is a small hole in the middle of the flour mixture.
- Gently stir the mixture with a wooden spoon or your hands, gradually incorporating the dry ingredients into the liquid. Continue stirring until a sticky dough forms.
- Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and begin kneading it with your hands. Fold the dough in half, then push it away from you using the heel of your palm.
- Continue kneading for about 8-10 minutes, adding a sprinkle of flour if necessary, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. This process helps develop the gluten in the dough, giving the bread its desirable texture.
- Shape the dough into a round ball and place it back into the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and leave it to rise in a warm place for about 1-2 hours or until it doubles in size.
- Once the dough has risen, gently punch it down to release any trapped air. This step is called “punching down” or “deflating the dough.”
- Now, you can divide the dough into smaller portions and shape them into desired shapes. Traditional scali bread is often formed into long loaves or braids.
- Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C) and prepare a baking sheet by lightly greasing or lining it with parchment paper.
- Transfer your shaped dough onto the prepared baking sheet and let them rise again for about 30-45 minutes. This second rise is crucial for achieving a lighter and more delicate texture in the final result.
- Once the dough has risen again, you can optionally brush the tops with some olive oil or water for a shiny crust.
- Bake the scali bread in the preheated oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the loaves turn golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Once baked, remove the scali bread from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy your homemade scali bread as a delightful accompaniment to soups, hearty sandwiches, or simply serve with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
This scali bread recipe takes approximately 3 hours in total, including the rising and baking times. It yields around 2 medium-sized loaves, serving about 8-10 people, depending on the portion sizes.
Rising and Shaping
Once you have finished kneading the dough for your scali bread recipe, it’s time to let it rise. Find a warm place in your kitchen, such as near a window that gets direct sunlight or on top of your preheating oven. Leave the dough to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or until it doubles in size.
After the dough has risen, it’s time to shape it into a traditional scali bread loaf. Start by gently punching down the dough to release any air bubbles. Then, divide the dough into two equal portions. Take one portion and shape it into a rectangle by stretching and pulling the dough gently. Next, starting from the short end, tightly roll the dough into a log shape. Repeat this process with the second portion of dough.
Place both shaped dough logs onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving some space between them to allow for further rising. Cover the shaped dough with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise for another 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until it has puffed up slightly.
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) while the shaped dough is undergoing its final rise. Once the dough is ready, remove the towel and carefully transfer the baking sheet into the preheated oven.
Bake the scali bread for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until it turns a beautiful golden brown color. To check for doneness, carefully tap the bottom of the bread with your knuckles. If it produces a hollow sound, then it is ready.
Once baked, remove the scali bread from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for a few minutes. You can enjoy the scali bread while still warm with a pat of butter or as part of a sandwich. It pairs well with tomato-based soups or makes a delicious base for garlic bread. This recipe makes approximately two loaves, and any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days.
Serving and Storage
After the scali bread is freshly baked, it is important to allow it to cool before serving. This will not only prevent burning your mouth but also enhance the flavor and texture of the bread. The cooling process usually takes about 30 minutes.
Once the scali bread has cooled, there are various ways to enjoy it. You can savor its deliciousness on its own, appreciating the crusty exterior and soft interior. For a delightful twist, you can dip the bread in a high-quality extra virgin olive oil, which adds a rich and savory taste.
Scali bread also serves as a fantastic base for sandwiches and bruschetta. Its airy yet substantial texture pairs well with a range of fillings such as deli meats, cheeses, and fresh vegetables. Whether you prefer classic sandwich combinations or more adventurous flavors, the scali bread will provide the perfect backdrop for a satisfying meal.
To ensure the scali bread stays fresh and maintains its delightful taste, it is crucial to store it properly. The best way is to place it in an airtight container or a sealed plastic bag. This will protect it from getting stale and retain its moisture.
When storing the scali bread at room temperature, it can last for up to 2-3 days. However, if you want to extend its shelf life further, freezing is an excellent option. Wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in a freezer bag before storing it in the freezer. Frozen scali bread can stay fresh for up to 2-3 months without losing its original flavors.
To enjoy frozen bread, simply thaw it at room temperature for a few hours or gently warm it in the oven for a freshly baked taste. The scali bread will maintain its delightful texture and aroma, making it an ideal treat even days or weeks after initially baking it.