Crusty Italian Bread
This crusty Italian bread recipe is very basic and oh so yummy! It is the perfect bread for mopping up pasta sauces, and quite good on its own.
With its open texture and firm crust, this delicious bread revives the age old tradition of Italian baking.
Just thinking about the aroma of fresh bread baking in the oven has me salivating. I can remember many Sunday afternoons when Mamma would surprise us with this heartwarming treat.
Making this crusty Italian bread recipe can be tricky but once you get the hang of it, you will be well on your way to becoming a seasoned baker. I am certain that your family and friends will look at you in a completely different light.
Let’s get down and dirty……knead that dough!
2 packages yeast
1 tspn. sugar
2 1/2 cups tepid water (110°F.)
6 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 tspn. salt
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 egg whites
Sesame seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 450°F.
In a glass or medium bowl, dissolve sugar into 1 cup of tepid (110°F.) water. Stir in yeast and let stand five minutes to proof. The yeast should be foaming.
In a mixer bowl, put in the yeast. Then add 4 cups of bread flour. Beat mixture 10 minutes. You want the dough to pull away from side of the mixing bowl.
Add your salt and remaining 1 ½ cups of tepid water. Then add the additional 2 ½ cups of bread flour. Knead mixture with the dough hook of an electric mixture for five minutes. If kneading by hand, knead dough for 10 minutes. Add more water if dough becomes too dry.
Grease a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a clean damp towel. Set aside and let the dough rise 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size. Clean a surface and spread some flour. Lightly punch down the dough, remove from bowl and form into 2 or 3 loaves. Place loaves on floured surface and cover with a damp towel. Let loaves rise about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Place a pan of very hot water on bottom oven shelf. This will create steam in your oven and is the key to a great crust.
After loaves have doubled, brush with egg whites and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cut 3 (1/4-inch deep) slits across top of dough with a sharp paring knife. Spread cornmeal on pizza stone or bread bricks and place loaves on top. Or, if you are using a cookie sheet, lightly grease with butter first and then sprinkle on some cornmeal as well. Slide loaves into the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped.
Let cool and serve! Enjoy!
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