Italian Bread Recipe

Italian Bread Recipe

Italian Bread Recipe

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons salt
5 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packages )
5 1/2-6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 cups very warm water (120 -130 F)
cornmeal
peanut oil or light olive oil
1 tablespoon butter or 1 tablespoon margarine, softened
1 egg white
1 tablespoon cold water

Preparation Instructions:
In large bowl thoroughly mix 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt and undissolved yeast. Add butter. Gradually add warm water to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes with mixer at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 3/4 cup flour. Beat at high speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic (about 8-10 minutes). Cover dough with plastic wrap and then a towel and let it rest for 20 minutes. To make loaves: Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 15×10 inch rectangle. Starting at wide side, roll up tightly; pinch seam to seal. Taper ends by rolling gently back and forth. To make rolls: Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle 8×5 inches. Starting with wide side, roll up tightly; pinch seam to seal. Taper ends. Place the shaped dough seam side down on greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. Brush dough with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2-24 hours. When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator and uncover carefully. Let dough stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Make 3 or 4 diagonal slits in dough with a sharp knife or razor blade. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes for rolls, 20 minutes for loaves. Remove from oven and brush with egg white beaten with cold water. Return to oven; bake 5-10 minutes longer, or until golden. **Note: I sometimes add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (adjust amounts to your preferences) of dried oregano OR basil OR rosemary to the dry ingredients. Sometimes I also add 1 bulb (head) of roasted garlic cloves to the dry ingredients. To roast garlic: Peel as much of the outer skin away as possible, leaving the cloves unpeeled and the head intact (optional: trim the tips of the cloves off to expose the”meat” to the oil). Place head (s) in covered casserole or on a piece of heavy aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, and bake covered at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes (mine takes over an hour in a terra-cotta garlic baker), or until cloves are soft and can be squeezed easily out of their skins. Let roasted garlic cool before adding to the flour for the bread.

Photo credit: Margaret Johnson

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