I know, I know…another bread recipe. What can I say? I’m hooked. It’s so much fun to make, and I get such great feedback from my family. My grandfather actually tried to pay me to make him a loaf of raisin bread after my mom shared hers with him. And, no, of course I didn’t take the money.
I was looking for a good Italian bread recipe, and none of my cookbooks (not even those all about bread) had what I wanted. I found a basic Italian bread recipe by Emeril on foodnetwork.com that came close. I made a few changes here and there, and the end result was fantastic. This is by far the easiest bread I’ve made to date. I think it may be the addition of the olive oil, but there’s no need to clean the bowl between initially mixing the dough and kneading it. It basically cleans itself!
- 2 cups lukewarm water (~100°F)
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 5 to 5 3/4 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- Stir the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water. Let proof (foam) as you measure out the dry ingredients.
- Combine 5 cups flour, sugar and salt salt in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture, remaining water and olive oil. Using a dough hook attachment, mix on lowest speed of electric mixer (stir setting on a KitchenAid) until a dough starts to form. Beat on low speed (2 on a KitchenAid) for 7 minutes. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and need by hand for 1 to 2 minutes, or until a smooth, firm, elastic dough is formed.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and spray the dough with a thin coating of cooking spray. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to proof in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Remove the plastic wrap, punch down and flatten the rounded dough with the heel of your hand. Roll the dough up tightly, sealing the seam well after each roll. The dough should be elongated and oval-shaped, with tapered and rounded (not pointed) ends.
- Preheat the oven lined with a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles to 425°F.
- Place the dough on a baker’s peel heavily dusted with flour, or alternately on an inverted baking sheet. Allow the dough to proof, loosely covered with a floured canvas cloth, for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Brush the dough with the egg white and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top. Using a razor blade or sharp knife, slash the dough lengthwise about 1/4-inch deep, keeping the blade at a 45 degree angle.
- Spray the dough generously with water from a water bottle and place in the oven on the baking stone. Immediately close the oven and bake for 3 minutes. Open the oven door and spray the dough again with the water bottle. Close the oven door and bake for an additional 3 minutes before spraying the dough for a third time (the spraying of the dough will ensure a crisp golden brown crust).
- Bake the dough for a total of 45 minutes, or until a hollow thud is heard when tapping the bottom of the bread. Allow the bread to cool before slicing.