Italian Bread

17 Jan

I’ve been wanting to get this recipe on my blog for a long time.  It’s one of my most requested recipes.  It is so versatile and gives good results every time.  It is a great way to venture into the yeast bread world because even a beginner can handle this recipe.  I don’t know how many loaves of this bread I’ve made over the years.  One of the nicest things about this dough, is that you can bake it partially, and freeze it for later.  When you are ready to serve, just finish baking.  I always serve this bread with dipping oil.  We tear the bread into hunks and dip it into the seasoned olive oil.  It is delicious!  This bread is a great companion to almost any entree, but especially with Italian food.  On this particular night, I also fixed Chicken Alfredo.   The dipping oil and Chicken Alfredo recipes are coming soon.

I make this bread in my food processor.  If you don’t have a food processor sturdy enough to handle dough, you can make it with a mixer and knead it by hand, but I love the ease of using the food processor and the results it gives.  As a bonus, it is much quicker than the traditional method.  I got home from work at 4:30 pm today and had this bread and Chicken Alfredo ready to eat by 6:00 pm.

If you decide to purchase a food processor  for bread, make sure it is one that is sturdy enough to handle dough.  I have a Cuisinart and use it very often.  It is a little pricier than some, but well worth the extra money.  I’ve owned a Cuisinart food processor for about 25 years (I’m on my second one, but just because as my family grew, I needed a bigger model that would handle more dough!)  I always make my pizza dough in the food processor as well, but enough of the Cuisinart commercial, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:  (Makes two long loaves)

5 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 pkg. active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 teaspoons yeast)

1 Tablespoon butter or margarine

1  3/4 cup warm water

Olive oil to brush the top of the loaves

In the work bowl of a sturdy food processor fitted with the dough blade, place 2 cups flour, 1 Tablespoon of sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 pkg. yeast.

Add 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine ( no need to melt).

With food processor running on dough speed, slowly add 1 3/4 cups warm water in a slow stream through the top feed tube.

Once all the water has been added, dough will look like this:

With food processor still running, begin to spoon the remaining flour into the top by heaping spoonfuls.

Once all the flour is added and incorporated, the dough should begin to stick together in a big mass and the dough should clean the sides of the work bowl.

You can add a little flour if needed if it seems too sticky.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and turn it over on itself a few times to gather into a nice ball.

Cut ball in half and coat the cut sides with flour then put the halves back together and cover with a large bowl and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.  (This little step will make the dough much easier to work with and shape)

When the 20 minutes is up, remove the bowl and take one half of the dough and begin to flatten it into a long rectangle.

Begin to roll it up from the long side and seal the seam so that the loaf stays together.

Place each loaf seam side down on a baking sheet that has been coated with olive oil.  You can place both loaves on the same sheet, just make sure they don’t touch and there’s room between for them to rise.

Rub or brush olive oil on the top surface of the loaves.

Cut diagonal slits in the top of dough about 1/4 inch or so deep.

Cove r with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in the refrigerator for two hours (if you have time).

To speed things along (like I did tonight) just let it sit out at room temperature to rise.  When loaves have risen some ( no need to double in size), remove plastic wrap and place in a preheated 425 degree oven.

Bake for 20 minutes,  or til browned.

If you want to partially bake the loaves and freeze them for later, bake for about 10 minutes or so, or just til dough is set and begins to brown a little.  Remove from the oven, allow to cool completely, then bag up in large ziplock freezer bags and freeze.  When you are ready to serve, sit out at room temperature, then bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees to serve.

Printer Friendly Recipe with no pictures, just highlight and print selection

Ingredients:

5 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 pkg. active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 teaspoons yeast)

1 Tablespoon butter or margarine

1  3/4 cup warm water

Olive oil to brush the top of the loaves

In the work bowl of a sturdy food processor fitted with the dough blade, place 2 cups flour, 1 Tablespoon of sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 pkg. yeast.  Add 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine ( no need to melt).  With food processor running on dough speed, slowly add 1 3/4 cups warm water in a slow stream through the top feed tube.

With food processor still running, begin to spoon the remaining flour into the top by heaping spoonfuls.  Once all the flour is added and incorporated, the dough should begin to stick together in a big mass and the dough should clean the sides of the work bowl.  You can add a little flour if needed if it seems too sticky.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface and turn it over on itself a few times to gather into a nice ball.  Cut ball in half and coat the cut sides with flour then put the halves back together and cover with a large bowl to allow it to rest for 20 minutes.  (This little step will make the dough much easier to work with and shape)

When the 20 minutes is up, remove the bowl and take one half of the dough and begin to flatten it into a long rectangle.  Begin to roll it up from the long side and seal the seam so that the loaf stays together.  Place each loaf seam side down on a baking sheet that has been coated with olive oil.  You can place both loaves on the same sheet, just make sure they don’t touch and there’s room between for them to rise.

Cut slits in the top of dough about 1/4 inch or so deep then brush loaves with olive oil.

Cove r with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in the refrigerator for two hours (if you have time).  To speed things along (like I did tonight) just let it sit out at room temperature to rise.  When loaves have risen some ( no need to double in size), remove plastic wrap and place in a preheated 425 degree oven.  Bake for 20 minutes,  or til browned.  If you want to partially bake the loaves and freeze them for later, bake for about 10 minutes or so, or just til dough is set and begins to brown a little.  Remove from the oven, allow to cool completely, then bag up in large ziplock freezer bags and freeze.  When you are ready to serve, sit out at room temperature, then bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees to serve.

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