This might sound nerdy to some, but I have been making loaves of italian bread throughout the week, nearly three per week. My father-n-law asked why I did not just buy the bread, as I joked about how my kids are already eating me out of the house, and my response was that there is something about making bread. Something so nice, whether it is the smell, the process, or simply overall, the taste and texture is so much better.
Making this bread only takes about three hours total, much of which is rising time for the dough. The ingredients are simple and the flavor of olive oil is embedded with the bread.
- 3 cups of bread flour
- 1 package of active dry yeast
- 1 cup of warm water
- 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp of sugar
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- Fine cornmeal for dusting prior to baking
- 1 egg white
Let’s get started.
In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar and combine. Slowly add the olive oil and your water and mix to form your dough. On a lightly floured surface, take the dough out of the bowl and add to the floured surface, kneading for nearly 6-8 minutes. Once your dough is somewhat elastic, add it to a lightly greased bowl (I use olive oil), cover with plastic wrap and let rise for nearly one hour. Once it has risen, punch it down, cover, and let it rise for nearly 20 minutes. In the meantime, dust your baking apn with a bit of fine cornmeal. Once the dough has risen again from being punched down, remove from the bowl, and shape into a 12 inch loaf. This is going to be rustic so do not worry too much about the shape.
Cover, and let this rise again for nearly one hour. I told you the rising process takes the most time, just enjoy the smell.
Now, get your egg white ready by cracking an egg, and removing the yolk. I do this by working it over a bowl, getting the white in the bowl, then having the yolk still in one of the shells. Whisk the egg white with a fork for a few seconds, then brush onto the bread.
At this time, I add sea salt to the top, just bit, as well as a favorite dried herb, in my case, I use basil or thyme.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and bake for nearly 28 minutes. Once done, remove from the baking pan and let cool on a wired rack. Enjoy.