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Scali Rolls – 1, Plate Fodder – 0

If you’re from the Boston area, you know what Scali Bread is. Crisp dark brown crusted bread, braided and usually sporting a copious coating of sesame seeds. The local market I frequent carries a scali roll. Crunchy, crisp crust… elastic, fragrant, tender interior. They’re honestly the best roll for a sandwich….
Forget the sandwich, they’re the best roll with just some butter slathered on it.

You already know I’m not much of a baker, but that never really stops me from trying. I keep thinking..“This will be time I can actually make bread”. As though during the night, the baker’s fairy (looking a little like James Beard…with wings) smacks me with a bread stick and magically bestows the inner secrets to bread making.

The recipe I used is from the King Arthur Flour Website. (Subsequently, so is the picture of the delicious bread above…. we’ll get to mine…..) I had been told that King Arthur bread recipes were fool-proof…and that an idiot could make bread with them.

I.. um… am worse than an idiot.  I can’t bake bread.

But, for all of you that will probably enjoy the pain of my attempt – I’m happy to oblige.

King Arthur Flour  
Scali Bread
(The recipe and photo above are courtesy of King Arthur Flour and can be found HERE)
Yield: one large loaf, or 12 rolls. 


  • 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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Cut each braid into six 3″ rolls. Squeeze the cut ends together to seal, and tuck them under.

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.

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.

So…  How did mine turn out?

They weren’t even suitable for a photo op.  I took out my frustrations this morning with the Cuisinart.


  1. @Gareth @ Stumptown SavouryThanks… yours seems to have turned out about like mine.. I think it was the recipe. I've tried it once more and got the exact same results.I've tried Bob's GF baking mixes repeatedly and have been thoroughly unimpressed with them. I do use the Red Mill line of alternate flours. For ingredients – they're fine, his baking mix is sorghum heavy so everything ends up with an unpleasant cardboard taste.

  2. As promised, I tried the recipe. Seems to me they left out one or two instructions and were really unclear about some thing.First, the starter. I have no idea what they mean by "pinch" because they don't define it. I used about an eighth of a teaspoon of active dry yeast because I don't happen to have instant yeast and it worked fine.Second, when making the dough, you really should start by cutting the starter into about a dozen pieces, then add the water to that and stir to soften. Using the whole mass of starter in the dough results in uneven distribution, which results in uneven rising and flavor.Third, the braiding instructions might work, but the usual method is to lay three strands down, then take one of the outer strands and lay it across the middle, making it the new middle. Then take the opposite outer strand and lay it across the middle, etc., until the whole things is braided, then tuck the ends under.It came out alright, but not really picture-worthy. I don't recall that I've ever had Scali bread or rolls, so I don't know whether the flavor was correct, but I found it a bit flat.Hope you have better results next time.For Gluten-Free products, I suggest Bob's Red Mill. They offer all sorts of things that will help, including A-P flour.

  3. @adventuresomekitchenI had the same issues with GF flours – man! that stuff is STICKY.. but I did finally come up with a baking mix that I liked.I've got a great GF Pizza Dough, if you don't have one

  4. I've been working on GF yeast bread for a few months now- I sympathize! I too, have a freezer full of breadcrumbs… but seriously- it's flour, water & yeast right? You'd think it was rocket science……oh wait- apparently it is! Keep it up- looking forward to a triumphant photo sometime soon!

  5. @briarroseIn the recipe's defense – I did have to change one thing. I have lactose intolerant people I cook for, so I substituted tofutti sour cream for the dry milk. I'm trying it again with a little lactaid milk in the liquid mix to soften things a bit. Unfortunately, I'm told the dry milk is kind of essential by a baker friend…

  6. Ehehehe….awesome way to get your frustrations out. 😉 Hopefully the next bread making attempt will go better. I'm not sure about the whole fool-proof recipe thing…some recipes work better for me than others. If you try this roll again I'd try out a different recipe.

  7. @The Happy WhiskOh, a little bad bread isn't enough to keep me down… I'm giving it another try. I'm determined to make edible scali rolls.I love making bread. It's incredibly therapeutic… and safer than taking aggressions out on whomever..or whatever may deserve them.

  8. Homemade breadcrumbs are the best. Go you for making something good of the experiment. Hope you get back in there again soon, and give homemade breads another go.

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