Italian Bread

 

I love bread. I lived near Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for a few years where I had easy access to some of the best Italian bread I’ve ever had. I’d never bothered to make my own bread until I found this recipe from Carrie at For the Feast. It’s actually pretty easy which surprised me. You’ll find that it has just the right amount of flavor for a bread.

  • 2 cups of lukewarm water (you may not use all of it)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast or a packet
  • 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil (I used basil olive oil to give it a little extra flavor)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sesame Seeds (optional for the top)
  1. Add 1 cup of warm water and active dry yeast and let it stand until creamy (about 5 minutes).
  2. In another bowl add flour, salt, and sugar. After 8 minutes, take the yeast and water mixture and add it to the flour mixture. Mix with a fork until sticky. Then, add the additional cup of water a little at a time and continue to form it into a ball. Note: I usually don’t need the full cup so make sure you add it slowly. Just make sure the dough is a tad bit moist. Add a little bit of flour at a time to get it to a less sticky consistency.
  3. Next, sprinkle with a bit more flour and work it with your hands to make a ball. It’s not necessarily kneading per say. You are just rolling and tucking in gently to get a smooth ball
  4. Take the dough and gently mold it into a smooth but firm ball with an elastic feel.
  5. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise. This could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour. It all depends on the temperature in the house and the humidity.
  6. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Once it rises take a little more flour, pat it down and roll it into a ball again.
  8. {OPTIONAL} Put the dough back into the bowl and let it rise 1 more time. When you let the bread rise twice it really makes for a better bread but if you are short on time then don’t worry about it.
  9. After you are done with all the rising, you will take the dough and put it on the parchment paper that is on a baking tray. The dough should be elongated and oval-shaped, with tapered and rounded (not pointed) ends.
  10. Take about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and coat the dough with it. This will make it nice and crunchy on the outside.
  11. After you rub it down with olive oil you can sprinkle a bit of sea salt or sesame seeds on top.
  12. Next, score the top of the dough with a sharp knife at a 45 degree angle. See image below in my post.
  13. Bake 30 minutes, until you hear a hollow sound when you tap the bottom.
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