Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Crispy Crusty Italian Bread

Last night I made some fresh fettuccine alfredo for dinner and decided that I might as well go all and make some bread too. I kept debating with myself whether I should make breadsticks or a loaf of bread. Then Chelle posted about some Italian bread that she had made the previous day and it looked fabulous. I figured that since the rest of my meal was from her blog I might as well make this too. :)

This recipe says to mist the bread with water right before putting it in the oven and then two more times at three minute intervals. Since I do not have anything to mist water from I decided to try the technique that I learned when I made the French Bread for Daring Bakers. Instead of misting the bread with water I went ahead and threw about 1/3 cup of water into the bottom of my oven. Not only does it create steam but it kinda cleans the bottom of my oven too. :)

This bread came together very quickly and easily. I think I could have let it rise a bit longer on its second rise because it was a tad heavy in the middle but the taste was still wonderful. Be warned this does make one large loaf of bread. Mine was about 16" long in the end.

Italian Bread
Source: As seen on
Brown Eyed Baker, originally from Dawn’s Recipes

Makes 1 large loaf

2 cups lukewarm water (~100°F)
1 package active dry yeast
5 to 5¾ cups bread flour
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2½ teaspoons salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Stir the yeast into ½ cup of the warm water. Let proof as you measure out the dry ingredients.

Combine 5 cups flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. 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, adding more flour as needed. Knead 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 1½ 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.


Jessica said...

This looks fantastic!

Anonymous said...

This looks wonderful- it looks like it has the perfect texture on the inside. I have an Italian bread recipe that I love, but I'll have to try this one because it's always nice to have bread that doesn't take 2 days to make!

MrsSchoon said...

One day I will be like you Amber and bake beautiful, tasty bread. I am super jealous! ;)

What's Cookin Chicago said...

Beautiful bread!!

Elly said...

Mmmmm this looks SO good. I really should try this recipe.

Brooke said...

You are going to inspire me to make bread yet.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this as much as we did - it's perfect to whip up on short notice!

Shelby said...

Looks awesome!

That Girl said...

I love the giant loaves of Italian bread!!

Cassi said...

You know what I was thinking... Subway's white bread is Italian.. and I was imagining slicing that thing right down the middle and piling it high with lettuce, meat, cheese... That would one GINORMOUS SUB!!!!! MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

Cassi said...

I spelled Italian wring on my last comment... but I noticed it as I was clicking the send button.
OOPS Anyway... back to what I was saying earlier. YUMMY!!!!!!!!!!

Cate said...

I will be making this bread very soon - it looks so good!

J said...

I can't believe how many comments there are from people who didn't even make the bread!

I made this last night and it tasted great. She wasn't kidding about the size. I ended up splitting it in half and saving the other half to bake later this week.

I used plastic wrap for the second rise and it stuck causing my bread to deflate quite a bit. :( Next time I will use the well floured cloth like she said.

Anonymous said...

Wow it`s a beautiful bread !very very nice.

Joe said...

It is Saturday night and I have a craving for good Italian bread. I tried your recipe and I ate the whole thing......... Excellent bread.Now I will have to make it all the time. Thanks much.


Diana said...

Thumbs up! And the house smells fantastic! Thanks for the great recipe!

Anonymous said...

Wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed this recipe. I made it for dinner last night and it turned out perfectly. I am new to the site but I will be returning often. Thanks so much:)