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My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!

Italian Bread Cooking View

Everyone needs a good recipe for a basic crusty bread.  It is a welcome accompaniment to almost any meal and guests are always impressed to find you made something so delicious yourself.  As with many homemade yeast breads, this one is fairly simple.  Most of the work is simply waiting for the dough to rise in its various stages.  The preferment is made the day or night before you make the bread, and this adds great flavor a bit reminiscent of sourdough.  This particular version has a nice crunchy crust but a soft, light and chewy interior.  Heavenly!  I like to serve it with a homemade garlic butter of some sort and lately I have been loving the compound herb butter I made at Thanksgiving.  This recipe makes two large loaves and even if you don’t plan on needing them immediately, I recommend making both anyway and keeping one in the freezer so you have it on hand at a moment’s notice.

Italian Bread
Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients

For the preferment:
1 cup water
1 cup bread flour
½ tsp. instant yeast

For the dough:
All of the preferment
5 cups bread flour
½ cup nonfat dry milk
1 tbsp. brown sugar or granulated sugar
1 tbsp. salt
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups water, at room temperature

Cooking View

Directions

  • To make the preferment, combine the water, flour and yeast in a medium bowl.  Mix well to blend, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature at least 4 hours and up to 16 hours.

  • When you are ready to make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the preferment, 4 cups of the flour, dry milk, sugar, salt, yeast, olive oil and water.  Mix on low speed until a sticky dough has formed.  Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour ¼ cup at a time.  Continue kneading on low speed until the flour has been incorporated (you may need to add even more than 5 cups) and you have a dough that is smooth and elastic, and no longer sticky.  The total kneading time should be about 10 minutes.

  • Transfer the dough to a well greased bowl, turning once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to rise at room temperature until approximately doubled in size, about 2 hours.  Punch down the dough, cover once more, and let rise again for 30 minutes.

  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead the dough once or twice and divide into two equal portions.  Cover the two pieces of dough with a damp towel and allow to relax for 20 minutes.

  • Shape the two portions of dough into the desired final shape and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat (I used a baguette pan).  Cover again with a damp kitchen towel and let rise until approximately doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

  • Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  Just before placing the loaves in the oven, brush or spray them lightly with water.  Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes before rotating them.  Bake another 20-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 200˚ F.  Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Source

  • http://cookingupastorminsouthernca.blogspot.com Polly Motzko

    Hello there Annie,

    I would love to add this to my new Cooking Network on Ning.

    I want to make this one some time!

    Polly Motzko

  • http://thesugarqueenbakes.blogspot.com Kathy

    Annie, that bread looks great!

  • http:nasilemaklover.blogspot.com Nasi Lemak Lover

    Thanks for sharing this recipe, this is kind of bread that I wanted to do long time ago, but can’t find a good recipe, I gonna to try this out tomorrow.

  • Emily

    This looks like something I could make *and* have it turn out tasty! :) I LOVE your blog (and so does my husband since he gets to eat the recipes I find on here). I have no idea how you find the time, but am so thankful that this is something you truly have a passion for and are willing to share it with all of us. Keep doing what you’re doing and I know I, along with many others, will continue to follow your lead!

  • http://confessionsofacookbookqueen.blogspot.com/ kristan roland

    I love homemade bread and yours looks delicious!! Good job!!

  • http://www.pamsmidwestkitchenkorner.com Pam

    This is a great recipe! Your bread looks delicious and I wish I had a slice now slathered with butter. I love your towel, pretty color and so “springy” looking!

  • http://www.nirvanaskitchen.com Nirvana

    I am always so impressed by those who make their own bread! I have always been too scared to try it myself :) This looks fantastic!

  • http://www.browneyedbaker.com Michelle {Brown Eyed Baker}

    So glad you loved this bread! I haven’t been making nearly enough bread lately; you’ve given me the kick in the butt I need :)

  • http://www.cakes-a-nonymous.com brandy

    Yummy! that looks so good. thanks for sharing.

  • http://cookingrookie.blogspot.com/ Cooking Rookie

    So pretty!

  • http://al4food.blogspot.com Valen

    The bread looks superb!

  • http://gala-purplecookie.blogspot.com/ Gala

    Yum! Thanks for sharing this, hope to try it out soon!

  • http://www.ramblingtart.com/ Krista

    Beautiful loaves, Annie. :-) I bet they smell heavenly, especially warm from the oven, butter melting into all the little holes. Wonderful. :-)

  • http://www.cheycancook.blogspot.com Cheryl

    we all love a good bread!

  • http://tuppercooks.blogspot.com/ Tuper Cooks

    That’s a great looking loaf. Do you find a big difference in crumb if it (preferment) sits longer? I’d guess yes, but I’m impatient and like to do it all in one day- thanks for sharing a great recipe!

  • Annie

    Tuper,
    Actually, no! I’ve been making this bread for a couple of years and this last time I made the preferment in the morning and made the bread later in the day. It tasted the same as always, and had the same great texture. So go for it!

  • Emily

    Is there a reason for using dry milk powder and water instead of real milk? I have several bread (machine) cookbooks and many recipes call for the milk powder. I’d rather use milk unless there’s a good reason not to?

  • Annie

    Emily,
    I don’t know as I didn’t invent the recipe. I would assume you could use milk, but I have no idea what the substitution ratio would be since it is bread and adding the wrong amount of liquid could really mess it up. Feel free to play around with it if you desire!

  • Tara

    Hi Annie,

    This looks wonderful and although I am an accomplished cook, I’m not big on baking. I would like to try this recipe sometime though! For the second loaf that you recommend freezing, would you freeze the dough prior to baking or freeze the loaf after its baked? Thanks!

  • Annie

    Tara,
    I always freeze bread, rolls, etc. after baking. With loaves of bread like this I usually slice them before freezing so I can just grab a slice or two when needed. Enjoy!

  • http://www.nibblemethis.com Chris

    Every time that I see a recipe like this it makes me weep for a stand mixer:)

    Gorgeous looking bread.

  • Demi

    This bread is in my oven right now…I cannot wait to slice it and slather butter on it! Mmmm

  • sarah

    How do you store you bread once baked? I have a batch of this rising on the counter and made it once before. I could not find the dry milk in our supermarket so I used regular milk, but then took out an equal amount of water and it seemed to work!

  • Annie

    I tend to slice and freeze any bread we aren’t going to eat immediately.

  • Heather

    I just mixed my preferment but forgot I’m volunteering at a hospital tomorrow and do not have the 4+ hours to bake the bread. Do you think it would okay to let the preferment sit over 24 hours or should I just scrap it and make a new one tomorrow?

  • Annie

    I’m really not sure, I’ve never tried it. I guess I would probably save it and give it a try but not have high expectations. Sorry!

  • http://indigoscones.blogspot.com/ Ellen @ Indigo Scones

    Have you ever used instant nonfat dry milk?

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t know there was a non-instant kind. I think all dry milk is instant, but I guess now I’m not sure.

  • http://indigoscones.blogspot.com/ Ellen

    Apparently there is non-instant and instant milks, both come from the same thing but instant is puffed up or something to make it easier to dissolve. I’m not sure either, I’m confused by all the differences there seem to be. Powdered non-fat vs. instant, non-instant vs. instant, blah. I think my instant nonfat dry milk envelopes fit the bill here. Internet research is great, but way too controversial sometimes.

  • Anonymous

    The box in my pantry says instant, so I know that works.

  • http://indigoscones.blogspot.com/ Ellen @ Indigo Scones

    Good to know, thank you!

  • RikiTikiTembo

    I just pulled two of these magnificent loaves out of my oven – they look and taste unbelievable! The texture is amazing, I swear my hubbies eyes rolled into the back of his head when he ate a slice. Im so excited to get into bread baking now – its exhilerating! Thanks Annie:)

  • Nicole M.

    This turned out fantastic! Warm bread with a great crust and good texture. We enjoyed it with an herbed olive oil dip. Thanks, Annie!