After tons (exaggeration) of research, I think I've found an authentic recipe for Italian Bread. If anyone has tips, etc. PLEASE comment! I found this recipe and it sounds exactly like my mother-in-law's bread she used to serve. Unfortunately, when she passed away, my husband and brother threw out all her recipes (without my knowledge) that she had written down in her cookbooks...I used many expletives when I found out!
Add the sugar and yeast to the warm water and let proof.
Stir in 4 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Beat in the salt and then add enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Kneed until as soft and smooth as a bambino's behind. Turn in a greased bowl, cover, and let double in size. (I put it in the oven with the light on - perfect rising temperature.)
Once doubled, punch down and divide into three pieces. Place back in the bowl, cover, and let rise.
Once doubled again, punch down and form into three fat "footballs." Grease heavy cookie sheets and sprinkle with corn meal. Place the bread on the sheets, cover with a towel, and let rise.
Once risen, mist with water and place in a preheated 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) oven. Mist loaves with water and turn occasionally while they bake. Bread is done when golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.