Isn’t it amazing how the smell of homemade Italian bread wafting through the air can transcend us back in time? A time when things were simple. Flour + yeast +salt+ water = bread. Not to mention, can bring people out from the caves of Electronicville. They will stop their video games, put down the tablet or laptop, even pause their favorite Netflix show. Before you know it, they arrive in your kitchen waiting for that scrumptious flavor of warm bread and butter!
Are you craving for some special family bonding? This one is it!
When baking Italian bread, always use a high quality bread flour. The higher protein content of the bread flour, ie. gluten, the lighter and chewier the texture. Have you ever made homemade bread that comes out too crumbly or dense? Using bread flour will help solve that problem. It’s all in the gluten production. Kneading the bread for 8-10 minutes minimum to develop the gluten will give you a delicious tasting bread!
I used a cool rise method for this bread by letting the bread rise overnight in the refrigerator, which seems to yield the best flavor,. For an extra special touch, brush loaves with an egg wash before scoring, sprinkle the loaves with sesame seeds to give your loaves that special bakery look. Absolutely delicious!
- 5 cups bread flour
- 1½ cups warm water
- 2½ teaspoons dry active yeast
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 1½ teaspoons of salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
- 2 tablespoons semolina flour or cornmeal
- 1 egg white
- 2 teaspoons of water
Making the Dough:
- combine 3 cups flour with dry yeast, salt and sugar in a stand mixing bowl.
- using a dough hook, mix on low speed.
- place water in a microwave-safe dish and add 1 tbsp. butter
- heat the water and butter in the microwave until it is very warm 120-130℉(do not overheat the water as the hot water can kill active yeast)
- with mixer on low speed, add warm water and butter and mix for 2 minutes
- add remaining flour one 1/2 cup at a time, mixing until all the flour is fully incorporated with each addition
- top mixer on occasion and scrap down the sides of the mixing bowl.
- continue mixing on lowest speed for 4 to 5 minutes
- turn mixer to next highest speed and allow to mix for additional 8 minutes. The dough will start to have a nice elastic texture to it and will start to pull away from the mixing bowl.
- cover dough with a damp towel and let it rise for 60 minutes.
- cut dough in half , cover one half with damp tower
- on a floured surface, take one half of the dough and punch it down to “de-gas” the dough and fold dough over onto itself a few times.
- roll the dough out into a 10″ by 14″ rectangle
- spray cooking oil on a baking sheet and sprinkle with semolina flour or cornmeal and place the bread loaf on pan and cover with plastic wrap.
- refrigerate overnight
- next day, remove plastic wrap and let loaves come to room temperature
- brush the tops with egg wash
- score the bread lengthwise
- sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds (optional)
- place in preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes. * For best bread results, use a steam tray in the bottom of the oven by placing a pan in over before preheating, once hot, pour boiling water into the pan.