I love a really good crunchy loaf of italian bread so I am on a quest to find a good recipe. I found this recipe on the kitchen aid forums, it was adapted from James Beard’s Beard on Bread book. It is designed to be used with a stand mixer. I quite like this recipe because it is quick and simple – and worked pretty well on my first attempt. However I think it needs a bit more salt which I will have to try next time. It makes 2 loaves.
I am sick, so I also made some of my tomato soup. I put the bread together and let it rise (~20 minutes), then started the soup when I put the bread in the oven. They go together great. The bread is also really tasty with some oil and vinegar. Happy munching.
Italian Feather Bread(one loaf)
Adapted from Beard on Bread
Proof your yeast with the sugar in the warm water in your mixer bowl. As it proofs, melt the butter in the hot water and allow to cool to lukewarm. Combine the liquids in the bowl and add the salt and flour, 1 cup at a time, until it cleans the sides of the bowl. It will still be a bit sticky.
Continue to knead until the dough is soft and smooth. Let it rest for 5 to 6 minutes, then divide the dough in two. Roll each half into a rectangle about 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. Starting from the wide end, roll this up quite tightly, pinching the seams as you roll.
Butter one or two baking sheets well and sprinkle with cornmeal. (Instead of buttering I used parchment paper.) Place the loaves on the sheets, and let them rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 50 to 60 minutes.
I like my bread crunchy so I created a steamy environment before baking. Place a casserole dish in the oven on the bottom shelf and boil a kettle. When the bread is ready to go in fill the casserole dish with boiling water.
Brush with beaten egg white and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven 40 minutes, or until the loaves are a rich, golden color and make a hollow sound when you tap the crust, top and bottom, with your knuckles. For even more crunch spritz with water every ten minutes.
Cool on a rack and slice when quite fresh.