Italian Bread

Italian BreadYou have to give it to bakers. They simply do great things, and you have to give them credit because making breads takes patience and time. I should stress time. Time is something that I do not have much of, however when I do on a weekend day, I think of making bread, or pizza dough. This past week, I wanted to make some sandwiches, and did not want anything but homemade bread. Time paid off. If you have the time, try this recipe. It makes two loaves, and is really great.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 5 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • cornmeal
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cup of water
  • egg white
  • course salt (optional)

Combine the yeast, salt, sugar, and 2 cups of flour in a mixing bowl. Let this sit while you get a saucepan going to melt the butter, and add the water. Bring to a warm temperature, not a boil. Now you are ready to combine the wet with the dry. Get your mixer going on low to medium speed, and begin to mix in the liquid, beating for nearly two minutes. Keep in mind that you want to scrape the sides from time to time to incorporate everything.

Beat in about 1/2 cup of more flour, continuing to mix for another two minutes, scraping the sides once again. Next, stir in enough flour (1 3/4 cup to 2 cups) with a wooden spoon to make a nice, soft dough.

Now it is time to have fun. Get your work surface ready, and sprinkle with enough flour. Get the dough onto the surface and knead for nearly 10 minutes until you have a nice dough. Add more flour if need be.

Italian Bread DoughCut the dough in half, and cover each piece with a large bowl. This will allow the dough to rise as you will let it sit under there for about 25 minutes. In the meantime, grease a large cookie sheet and lightly shower it with cornmeal. When the dough has set for 25 minutes, lightly flour your work surface again, along with your rolling pin, and roll each dough about 14 x 10 or so. From the 14 inch side, begin to roll, and pinch the ends to seal. Do this for each half.

Next, transfer them to the cookie sheet, seam side down, brushing the top and sides with the oil. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and let them sit in the refrigerator for roughly 4 hours, but they can remain in there for up to 24 hours.

When you are ready, and trust me, this is the hard part, preheat your oven to 425 degrees, remove the loaves from the refrigerator, and take off the plastic wrap. Let the dough sit out and rest for about 15 minutes. Then, cut a few diagonal slashes on the top of each loaf. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove from the oven, and beat your egg white. Brush the egg white on the top of each loaf, sprinkle with some course salt, return to the oven, and cook another 5 minutes.

You will be amazed as to what the egg white does to the loaf is it creates a killer shine to it. Let the loaves cool, before using for sandwiches, or simply eat with some butter and garlic.



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