Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Italian Bread

Here's a great bread recipe from the Food Nanny. I love Liz Edmunds (aka the Food Nanny). Every recipe of hers that I have tried so far has turned out wonderfully. This Italian bread is very similar to French bread, but a little moister and slightly denser. It was delicious and my family gobbled it down when I served it with ham and corn chowder last week.Oh, and the next day it was great for making the most wonderful French toast using this recipe.

Italian Bread

3 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (I use SAF)
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar, divided
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
7-9 cups bread flour, divided
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water

In a large measuring cup combine 3 cups warm water, yeast, and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Stir until the yeast is dissolved. Cover measuring cup with a plate and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, until foamy.

In the bowl of a heavy duty mixer (I have a Bosch) mix 3 1/2 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt. Add melted butter and foamy yeast mixture. Mix to combine. Add remaining 3 1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time, for a total of 7 cups of flour and mix with dough hook. The dough should be firm and completely pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is still sticky add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time until dough is firm and pulls away from sides. Once you have incorporated the right amount of flour, knead with dough hook at medium low speed for 10 minutes.

Transfer dough to a floured surface and form into a large ball. Place in a large greased bowl, turning to coat, and cover with a dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 20-40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

Punch down dough and transfer to a floured surface. Form into a ball and divide dough in half. Form each half into a thick baguette shape, about 10 inches in length. Place on a greased baking sheet. Repeat with other half of dough. With a sharp knife cut 3 diagonal slashes in the top of each loaf. Beat egg white with 1 tablespoon of water and brush this egg wash over the loaves. Let the loaves rise, uncovered, until doubled in bulk, 20-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees When dough has doubled, bake for 30 minutes, or until golden on top and bottom. Turn loaves out onto a cooling rack.

*This recipe also makes rolls: pinch off about 1 1/2 inch balls from the dough instead of forming into loaves. Place balls side by side on greased baking sheet. Let rise until doubled, 30-45 minutes. Bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes or until lightly browned.

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