Hi, all! It’s so good to be home again! For the last week (Thursday to Thursday), I’ve been down in Orlando for work. It was a really busy week, but it was a lot of fun. I missed my cats, my boyfriend and my family – but I also realized that I missed cooking!
Since I didn’t have to work today (yippee for a long weekend!), I decided I wanted to cook something. As it turns out, today was kind of a dreary day – gray skies, random rain, that kind of thing. And I also had to face my least favorite part of coming home after a trip – unpacking and laundry!
So I figured that the logical thing to do would be to bake some bread, right? Laundry gets done in stages – you put it in the washer, you wait. You put it in the dryer, you wait. Bread gets done in stages too – you make the dough, you let it rise. You punch it down, you let it rise. You put it in the oven, you wait.
The bonus with bread it that at the end, you get a yummy warm slice with butter. Laundry doesn’t have that kind of payoff!
I think I’ve said this before, but I’ve been searching for great bread recipes. I found an awesome recipe for Carmelized Onion and Asigo Bread, but that’s awfully fancy for everyday. Well, now I’ve found the perfect recipe for Italian bread! (I sort of took two different recipes that I found online and used bits of each to make this recipe.)
It’s been a good day – I have an empty suitcase, clean clothes, my house smells like baking bread, I get to pick up my CSA box in about 20 minutes (yippee!!) and after that, I get to have dinner with mom, dad, and my sister! Now, obviously, the bread isn’t the only reason it was a good day, but it certainly doesn’t hurt!
Perfect Italian Bread
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 packet dry active yeast
- 5 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
Place the water and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer and allow the yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes. Using a dough hook attachment, add the flour and sugar to the water and mix on low speed until a dough starts to form. Drizzle the oil and salt into the dough and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and spray the dough with a thin coating of cooking spray. Cover with a damp towel and set aside to proof in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour or until doubled in size. Remove the towel, 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 rounded ends.
Preheat the oven lined with a pizza stone to 425 degrees F.
Place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper. Allow the dough to proof, loosely covered with a damp towel, for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. Brush the dough with the egg white. Using a razor blade or sharp knife, score the top of the dough.
Spray the dough generously with water from a water bottle and place in the oven on the baking stone. (You can use the parchment paper and just set the loaf and parchment paper right on the pizza 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 25-30 minutes, or until a hollow thud is heard when the bread is whacked with the bowl of a wooden spoon. Allow the bread to cool slightly before serving.