Sunday, December 4, 2011

Italian Bread Recipe

I love to cook and bake.  I find it very relaxing and therapeutic.  I also love to see satisfied faces around the table when I have prepared a recipe. 

I can cook a wide variety of items.  However, my passion is really baking.  I have mastered cookies, cakes, trifles, I'm working on pies, and now bread.  Last Christmas my in-laws bought me a bread machine.  I made all kinds of breads, bagels, pretzel dough, etc.  All winter we had a new bread in our house every few days.  Then summer time came, and I put the bread machine away.  Well, it's that time of year again, it has made a return.

Now for this recipe, you don't need a bread machine.   Actually you can do almost any bread by hand; the bread machine just makes the kneading and rising so simple.  Last night, I prepared a classic Italian bread.  I have to say nothing compares to fresh bread out of the oven.  This bread can be enjoyed with butter as an addition to any meal, or make it into garlic bread.

So I will share the recipe, and urge you to give it a try.  Right now I have whole wheat dinner roll dough in the machine.  Stayed tuned for that recipe too :)


1 c. water, warmed (I run my hot tap water for a minute or two and use that)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. dry yeast
2 1/2 to 3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 egg white

If using a bread machine, add water, oil, sugar and yeast to bread machine container.  Allow the yeast to foam a little.  Then add flour (start with 2 1/2 cups) and salt.  Use setting for dough, one pound loaf.

For the first few minutes watch the machine mix and add flour until the dough is elastic but not sticky.  I only added another 1/4 c.  Allow machine to finish dough cycle.

If you are not using a bread machine, combine water, oil, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl.  Allow yeast to foam a bit.  Slowly add flour and salt until dough is elastic and not sticky.  Mix with hands or a wooden spoon.  Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Place in an greased bowl, cover and allow to rest for an hour.

Prepare a cookie sheet with baking spray.  Turn dough onto sheet and shape into a loaf.  Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size (about 30 minutes).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut slits diagonally and brush top of loaf with egg white and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown, and the bread sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom.

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