Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Crusty Italian Bread

This is a recipe I found on another site and had to share it. This is one of the best Italian bread recipes around. I has a wonderful texture inside and  has a wonderfully crisp crust. I am going to give you a slightly revised list of ingredients as it was a little salty. With less salt this will surly be something you make often, as will I. Thank you Destiny for this great bread recipe!

Crusty Italian Bread

4 C.- All purpose flour
1 T. - Light Brown Sugar
1 1/3 C. - Warm Water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3/4 t. - Salt
1 1/2 t. - Olive Oil
2 t. - Active Dry Yeast
1 T. - Sesame seeds

1 T. - Water
2 T. - Cornmeal

2 C. of ice water or very cold water, placed into an oven proof bowl

Place water, oil, brown sugar,salt, flour and yeast in your bread machine in this order or in the order of your  manufacturer. Set machine to dough cycle. Press start.

While dough is working in your machine, prepare pan or pans to bake on. I would suggest placing your dough to rise onto the pan you are going to bake on so it does not drop on you. You can either sprinkle the pan/pans lightly with cornmeal to prevent bread from sticking or spray lightly with a cooking spray. You could also place parchment paper on your pan/pans.

Once cycle is complete, deflate dough and turn onto a floured surface. Form dough into two loaves and place them seam side down on your prepared baking sheet. ***DO NOT USE A LOAF PAN**
Cover with a damp cloth or towel and place in a warm area away from any drafts. Allow your bread to rise until it has doubled. Approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the temperature of the area they are rising in.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Beat together your egg and water. After bread has risen (you can tell if it is done rising by gently pushing a finger into the dough, if it springs back, it is not finished rising. If it leaves a slight indentation, it is ready),  take a very sharp knife and make one shallow slice down the center of each loaf. Then very gently brush the loaves with your egg mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds. You must be careful to do this gently so you do not make the bread drop. You could also do this step after shaping the loaves before they have risen. I would suggest not slicing the dough before it has completely risen.

Place an oven proof bowl of ice water on the rack below the rack you will be backing your bread on. Then place bread into your preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until it is golden brown and has a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom. Remove from oven and on a rack.  *** Do not forget the bowl bowl of ice water, if you do not have ice available, use very cold water. This is important in getting that crispy crust.***


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