This recipe for Italian bread produces perfect loaves of bread. Tender on the inside and the bottom of the bread is a little crispy. Believe me, it's out of this world.
So easy to make too. Smells heavenly when baking, and tastes even better. Also, I love that the bottom of the bread it's just a little crispy, but soft enough to cut through. Makes great toast too.
HOMEMADE ITALIAN BREAD RECIPE FROM SCRATCH
7-1/4 to 7-3/4 cups flour
2 pkgs fast-rising active dry yeast
2-1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1 TBS salt
1 slightly beaten egg white
sesame or poppy seeds for garnish (optional)
In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of flour with the yeast. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the warm water and when dissolved, pour into the bowl. Beat on low for 30 seconds while scraping the sides and then on high speed for 3 minutes. Add the (some, if not all) remaining flour and by hand, mix it until it forms a stiff dough.
Turn on to a slightly floured surface and knead until it is elastic and smooth; 15-25 minutes. A dough hook on your mixer will work fine.
Shape into a ball and place in a slightly oiled bowl; turning once to cover the entire surface of the dough with the oil.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled in size. Punch down and place on a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Cover dough with the bowl and let rest for 10 minutes.
Now roll each half into a rectangle approximately 15x12 inches. Beginning on the long side of the rectangle, roll the dough up tightly; sealing as you roll it. Taper the ends.
Grease 2 baking sheets and sprinkle them with cornmeal. Place each loaf, diagonally, seam side down on each prepared baking sheet. Make diagonal cuts 2 inches apart on the top. Cover and let rise until loaves double in size (20-45 minutes).
PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees. Place a shallow pan on the lower rack of the oven and fill with boiling water.
Add 1 tablespoon of water to the slightly beaten egg white and brush over the top and sides of the loaves.
Bake for 20 minutes and brush the bread again with the egg white mixture. Return to the oven and bake another 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.
DOUGH RISING TIPS: You may use the oven, placing hot water on the bottom rack and the dough on the top rack and close the door. You can also use an electric throw on medium and place the bowl between the throw for the dough to double in size.
Be sure to check the temperature of the water before adding it to the bowl; otherwise your bread will not rise properly.
This recipe for Italian bread is not my only recipe - click on the homemade bread recipes link below and find my favorites.