Every Good Pasta (or soup, or stew) Needs a Good Italian Bread!

I really enjoy making bread of all kinds. I make it by hand, I make it using the dough hook on my stand mixer, and I also make the dough in my bread machine. While occasionally I go ahead and just bake a loaf in the machine, I prefer to use it for making the dough which I take out, shape, rise, and bake in the oven. That is how I make my Italian bread. I have played with the recipe, adjusting things here and there until I came up with what I liked best in taste, consistency, and even appearance. At the end I will tell you how to do it with a mixer. Later on in my blogging, I will go over making bread completely by hand. Kneading bread is a science, the goal of which is to grow and strengthen the gluten strands, which makes the most successful bread.

In the pan of a bread machine, pour 1 1/3C warm water (about 110 degrees F). Add 1T sugar, 1 1/2t kosher salt, and 1T olive oil. Add 4 1/4C bread flour. Lock the pan into the machine, put on the dough setting, and start. When finished, turn out on a lightly floured surface and punch down. Shape into a loaf. Prepare a baking sheet by rubbing with a small amount of olive oil and dusting with a bit of cornmeal. Place loaf seam side down, cover with a tea towel, and let rise til doubled, 40 to 50 minutes. Uncover, brush with a beaten egg white, and bake in a 375 oven for 35 to 40 min til sounds hollow when tapped.

OR:

In your mixer with a dough hook, pour in the warm water and sprinkle the yeast over the surface. When foamy, add the sugar, salt, and flour. Mix on low til combined, and on medium about 7 minutes to knead well. Put in an oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with tea towel and let rise 60 to 75 min, til doubled. Then follow rest of recipe as above for second rising, shaping, and baking.

This bread is marvelous with the Pasta Carbonara of yesterday’s blog. You can wrap leftover bread in foil and it heats up beautifully in a 350 oven in about 20 min.

More bread of all kinds later! Enjoy!

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