Treccia: my special bread loaf

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I love baking bread, first of all because I love eating it and it is the one food that above all the others I could really not do without. Bread is the epitome of simple, honest, convivial food but still can be so tasty, versatile and never boring. You can eat it on its own with a little butter or (even better) a drizzle of olive oil, it can accompany other food or being the ingredients of delicious and more complex dishes. It is the one staple item that can never miss in my kitchen.

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I love baking bread despite the fact that many consider it very challenging. Actually, by following a few simple rules, making bread is not only very simple but also a quite relaxing process because bread need time, to raise, to rest, to proof, it cannot be rushed and although it requires a good deal of love and care it is unlikely to put you under pressure like pastry or other baked products. And I found that kneeding can also be a very therapeutic stress-release exercise.

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I love baking bread because one could make bread every week for years and years and always be able to make something different every time: different flours, different flavouring, different shapes, different rising agents the possible combinations are pretty much endless. And this variety comes from combining in many occasion, only a few ingredients 3-4 at the most.

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I know bread is not a sweet, or at least not in its most orthodox definition, but I also believe one could not call themselves a baker (professional or not) without being able to make good bread so I hope you will still enjoy the bread items that I will post every now and then, especially as I will choose my favourite.
And it is not a case that this bread comes first. In English this would be probably called “4-plaited loaf” but for me it can only be “Treccia”. I have been eating it more or less since I can remember is something that has been made for long time in my family thanks to my cousin Patrizia who not only brought the recipe from Switzerland but mastered it (I am really only an amateur compared to her) and was kind enough to share her recipe with me and teach me how to make it. It’s a rich bread with milk and butter that goes perfectly with cheese, salami and other cured meat and when I meet with my family in Italy we always have one around the table to share. That is of course the main reason why I love it so much.

Have you all a good week!

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RECIPE

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1kg Strong white bread flour
500ml milk
50gr butter
7g dry fast action yeast or 25gr fresh yeast
A pinch of salt
1 egg

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Mix the yeast in the flour and set aside, warm the milk lightly in the microwave with the butter until the butter melts but making sure the mixture remains lukewarm and not hotter. Add the salt on the side of the flour without mixing and start adding the butter and milk mixture. Kneed the dough until it is smooth, bouncy and elastic but try to not add more flour.

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Cover with a sheet of cling film lightly oiled and let it raise in a warm dry place for 1-2 hours.

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Divide the dough into two batches of the same weight to make 2 loafs (for one loaf just half all the doses). Divide each batch into 4 and roll them out in long dough sausages as similar as possible in size and length. In the internet you can find great videos that will show you how to shape a perfect 4-plaited loaf, just make sure the 4 plaits are not too thin or stretched.

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Proof for half an hour, brush the surface with egg wash and bake at 200C for about 1 hour or until the bottom makes a hole sound when tapped.

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