Homemade bread tastes amazing, smells delectable cooking, and convincing that dough to rise doesn’t have to be intimidating.
- 7-8 cups all-purpose flour
- 5 tsp. active dry yeast (2 packages)
- 2 1/2 c. warm water (about 115 degrees)
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- Yellow cornmeal (to dust baking sheet)
- 1 slightly beaten egg white (gives a shiny golden crust)
Assemble ingredients. All 4 of them 🙂 Note- if you use the microwave to heat your water it can end up yeast killing hot quick so test it with a kitchen thermometer.
In a large bowl measure 3 cups of flour and add the yeast. Stir to combine.
Add 1 Tbsp salt to warm water and stir until dissolved. Sounds like a lot but you need that salt to get that Italian bread texture.
Add warm salt water to dry mixture.
Beat at low speed with electric mixture for 1/2 minute, scraping sides of bowl. Then beat 3 minutes at a high speed.
By hand, stir in flour, one cup at a time, until you have a stiff dough. You may not use 7 cups or you may end up closer to 8 cups, the humidity of your kitchen will change the amount of flour you need everytime you make it.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Truthfully, I could have have kneaded this a little longer, I also lost count when I was adding the flour, I also took a ten minute hiatus to deal with my little ones booboo during the beating process and yet the bread police never showed up…. Wierd. My point is while bread making is science it is not an exact one. Relax and enjoy the process.
Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turn dough once to grease the surface. Or do what I did and almost drop it and leave it looking like this 🙂
Cover bowl with a towel and let dough rise until double in size (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours)
Punch down the dough and turn out onto the lightly floured surface (I just left my mess from kneading the dough and put it right back where it started).
Cover and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes. It needs time to recover from being punched and split in two.
Grease the baking sheet. Decide if you want to sprinkle that greased baking sheet with cornmeal and act accordingly. Roll each half of dough into a rough rectangle, beginning on the long side, roll dough up and seal. Place rolled dough on prepared baking sheet, seam side down and tuck the ends under.
I use kitchen shears or a sharp knife and make diagonal cuts about 2 inches apart across the top of the loaf. If you skip this step when the bread is done cooking it looks like you hid a mouse inside each loaf and it fought for its dear life to get out. Don’t skip this step.
Cover the dough one last time and let it rise until doubled. Depending on the temp in your house it will take about 45 to 60 minutes. For me it hinged on the fact my kids were hungry and I rushed the process 🙂
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place a pan of warm water on the lowest rack of the oven. It will help keep the bread moist while it bakes.
It is optional but I recommend mixing egg white with a Tbsp cold water and brushing it on the loaves before they go in the oven and again at the half way mark. Be careful not to let it drip down the sides of the loaves or your efforts to make them shiny and golden brown will become an effort to get them unglued from the baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, uncovered in a 375 degree oven. Then brush with egg wash again and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes.
Cool on wire racks and enjoy!
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