Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Italian Bread

I mostly like to make focaccia to go with our Italian meals, but since finding this bread recipe for French Baguettes I like to trade off between the two. I think it's more like a larger Italian loaf than skinny, crusty baguettes, so that's what I call it. When I'm baking for more than the family, the Italian Bread is nice because it makes two loaves. I modified the recipe enough that I got tired of looking at the original and having to remember what I'd changed so I'm posting my version of it here.

Italian Bread

1-1/2 cups very warm water
1 packet yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3-4 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 425°.  In a large bowl, stir together the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Allow the mixture to proof for several minutes. Stir in the salt and add the flour a half-cup at a time, until the dough becomes soft but not sticky. Turn the dough out onto a floured service and knead the dough until elastic.

Cut the dough into four even pieces. Roll each of them into four long, thin ropes. Twist together two of the ropes to form one loaf.  Twist the other two ropes together to form a second loaf. Transfer both onto a greased baking sheet. Allow the loaves the rise for 15-30 minutes in a warm place.

Fill a metal baking pan (I use a 9x13) with 3-4 cups of ice. Place the loaves in the oven on the middle rack and the pan with ice cubes on the lower rack. Bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes.

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