Old World Italian Bread
I used to do a lot of breads in a bread machine, but I was only able to do a loaf at a time. And beings as I was advised to feed my son fresh bread as opposed to store bought bread with preservatives... I got into the habit of preparing fresh bread several times a week.
There is nothing better than the smell of bread in the oven and having a slice fresh out of the oven.
Bread making can be nerve racking, but so worth the time. Just takes a lil patience. And it helps to have an easy recipe! :)
7 call purpose flour
2 pkgfast-rising active dry yeast
3 cwarm water, (110 degrees f/ 45 degrees c) too hot and you will kill the yeast, too cold and yeast won't activate, therefore leaving you with flat bread. make sure your thermometer is calibrated correctly.
·yellow cornmeal for dusting
1egg white, slightly beaten
How to Make Old World Italian Bread
- In a large mixing bowl, add sugar, yeast, and warm water. Let proof for about 10-15 minutes. (Proofing is allowing the yeast to activate, you will see small bubbles come to surface of water, therefore letting you know your yeast is good & activated)
- Gradually add in the remaining 3 cups of flour to make a stiff dough. You will have to knead by hand. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Kneading will take about 15 minutes, give or take a few.
Shape dough into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl, turning dough to coat complete surface of dough. Cover with a towel and place in a warm, draft-free space to allow dough to rise until doubled in size. Approximately an hour.
TIP: I PLACE MY DOUGH IN THE OVEN ON TOP RACK. IN A LARGE SHALLOW PAN, IE:CAKE PAN, FILL WITH BOILING WATER AND PLACE ON BOTTOM RACK. CLOSE OVEN AND ALLOW DOUGH TO RISE. DO NOT TURN OVEN ON!
- When dough has doubled in size, turn out on lightly floured surface and punch down, divide dough into two , and form into 2 balls, place back into greased bowl and cover and allow to rise for 15 minutes, doubled in size again.
- Once doubled, punch down and form into 2 oblong balls.
Grease 2 heavy baking sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place dough on baking sheets.
Preheat oven to. 375 degrees F
NOTE: I MADE 3 SMALLER LOAVES FOR THE PURPOSE OF USING THIS BREAD IN ANOTHER RECIPE. WHICH YOU CAN TOTALLY DO IF YOU'D LIKE! JUST ALTER BAKE TIME BY APPROXIMATELY 5-8 MINUTES.
- Whisk together egg white and tablespoon of water.
Make diaginal cuts into dough about every 2 inches, 1/4 inch deep. Brush dough with eggwash over top and sides.
Again, cover and allow to rise in a warm draft-free space until dough doubles in size. Approximately 30 minutes.
- When ready to bake, remove cover from dough.
Place a large shallow pan filled with boiling water in bottom rack of oven.
Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes. Midway between baking, brush eggwash on top and sides of dough again. This helps give you that nice crispy crust with the soft center.
Bread is done when you tap on crust and it has a hollow sound, and crust is golden brown.
Allow to cool on cooling rack!
But first you must test it by slicing a nice warm piece of bread and topping with fresh butter. Eat, if you die of delight, it's safe to share with family & friends! :)