Homemade Italian Bread

Italian bread in basket
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bread

Isn’t it amazing how the smell of homemade bread wafting through the air can transcend us back in time? A time when things were simple.  Flour + yeast + water = bread.

Today there are so many different grains available to us that so many people are making bread with barley, milletQuinoa, you name it.  I get it, it’s healthy.  But sometimes I just crave a traditional, warm, crusty Italian bread.  There is nothing like it, it’s chewy, soft and delicious.

Bread Flour

When baking bread,  I 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.  So, that means mixing or kneading the dough longer.  

I used a cool rise method for this bread which seems to yield the best flavor, by letting the bread to rise overnight in the refrigerator. For an extra special touch, brush loaves with an egg wash before baking and sprinkle the loaves with sesame seeds to give your loaves that bread bakery look.

Ingredients:

  1. 5 cups bread flour
  2. 1½ cups warm water
  3. 2½ teaspoons dry active yeast
  4. 3 teaspoons sugar
  5. 1½ teaspoons of salt
  6. 1 tablespoon butter
  7. 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
  8. 2 tablespoons semolina flour or cornmeal

Egg Wash:

  1. 1 egg white
  2. 2 teaspoons of water

Making the Dough:

mix dry ingredients
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  • combine 3 cups flour with dry yeast, salt and sugar in a stand mixing bowl.
  • using a dough hook, mix on low speed.
add butter to water
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  • place water in a microwave-safe dish and add 1 tbsp. butter
heated water to 130 degrees
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  • 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)
add water
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  • 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. 
Pizza Dough
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  • 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 rest for 20 minutes.
cut in pizza dough
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  • cut dough in half 
rolling pin rolling out pizza dough
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  • 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
brush dough with egg wash
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  • spray cooking oil on a baking sheet and sprinkle with semolina flour or cornmeal
  • starting on the longer side of the rectangle roll the dough from end to end.
  • place on a cookie sheet seam side down and tuck both ends under.
  • brush top with egg wash
Baked italian bread
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  • place in preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes. ( For best bread results, use a steam tray in the bottom of the oven) 

Try these delicious bread recipes!

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