Rustic Italian Bread

Hi – Jen here again.  My family has a favorite bread recipe – super easy and simple. It’s got short rising times,  and uses really basic ingredients (just flour, water, yeast and salt). You don’t have to have any fancy machines to make it – just be willing to knead for a bit (although I use my Kitchen Aid . . . we like our machines around here).

This recipe doubles well. I can fit two loaves on one big cookie sheet. Another favorite rendition, often requested by my daughter, is to roll the dough out flat, sprinkle with cheese (usually mozzarella), roll it up, seal the edges (so you don’t get a cheesy explosion) and put it in a lightly greased 9×5 bread pan and bake according to the same time.

The dough can also be used for rolls, pizza dough and breadsticks. Adjust baking time accordingly (pizza is usually cooked hot and fast, and breadsticks are a bit slower, but shorter time than bread or rolls).

When Amanda visited last month, we tried making this with 100% whole wheat flour, and, that time it didn’t rise to it’s full potential . . . so, experiment to find what flour blends work for you.

We once taught this recipe to a sister missionary from Taiwan who started making bread for herself everyday. Later sisters reported that she would try adding different things to the bread, like fruits and vegetables, including lettuce. So, I would say there’s lots of room to experiment. This is alchemy in it’s purest form.

Enjoy!

Rustic Italian Bread

Serving Size : 8

1 cup warm water (105F – 115F)
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 ½ – 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornmeal (I often just use my Silpat  – maybe that’s why it stuck last time)

Place ¼-cup warm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over water. Let stand 5 minutes or until yeast is dissolved. Add remaining water, 1 cup flour and salt. Mix well until blended. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. [Alternatively, dissolve yeast in KitchenAid then proceed to mix in the flour and knead for about 3-4 minutes on 2, skipping the following hand kneading.]

Knead dough on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes.

Place dough in a greased bowl, turning dough to grease top. Cover; let rise until almost double in size, 30-45 minutes.

Grease baking sheet; sprinkle with cornmeal. Punch down dough. Place dough on prepared baking sheet. Roll dough into a 12-inch round. Roll up dough jelly-roll style. Pinch seam to seal. [This is the step where you can sprinkle the dough with shredded mozzarella before rolling up. I cooked it in a bread pan instead of on a baking sheet when I did this.]

Taper ends to form oval loaf. Cover; let rise until almost double in size, about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F. Sprinkle a little flour over loaf. Make 3 or 4 slashes in top of loaf with a sharp knife. Bake until browned, about 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack; let cool slightly before serving.

Source: “Easy to Bake Easy to Make Breads Card 8”

Copyright: “2002 International Masters Publishers, Inc.”

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NOTES : Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the water before adding yeast; water that is too hot will kill the yeast.

For dinner rolls, separate dough into 8 pieces. Shape dough into rolls with floured hands. Proceed as recipe directs.

P.S.  Sorry I don’t have any pictures.  I haven’t made this since Amanda came to visit last month, and my scanner isn’t working to get pictures from the original recipe card.  We’re having chicken and rice for dinner tonight, and instead of making bread, I’ve been typing up this recipe to share.

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3 thoughts on “Rustic Italian Bread

  1. Pingback: What I Made « Alchemy in Alameda

  2. I just made this last night for the first time. So good and so easy. I reduced the yeast to 1 1/2 t and increased the flour by about 1 T and water by about 1T for elevation. So good. I might brush it with oil next time. Oh, and it took about 30 minutes to bake in my oven.

  3. Pingback: Inspiration – and overnight cinnamon rolls « Good Clean Food

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