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Rustic Italian Bread

Rustic Italian Bread

Bread making is an art form.  There is something so beautiful about a perfectly baked loaf of hot-from-the-oven, crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside bread.  It can evoke strong emotions, drive away the clouds on a rainy day, bring the family together around a table, and turn a bowl of stew into a feast!  Some of the most memorable items I’ve eaten in my life were surrounded by, accompanied with, or just plain a piece of perfect bread.

My love of food is decades old, but my baking abilities have been (and still are) a work-in-progress.  A few years ago, I made it one of my New Year’s resolutions to make a loaf of bread a week until I had “mastered” the art of baking bread.  It was April by the time I knew what I was doing.  I could tell based on the weather how well my dough would rise, I had found the perfect place in my house for the bread to rest, and I knew with my eyes closed when just the right amount of flour & kneading had been accomplish.  To this day, it is one of the only New Year’s Resolutions I actually succeeded in checking off my list!

This small challenge has drastically changed the way I cook.  Fresh-baked breads are now a staple to many of our meals & snacks, they often tag along as part of a dinner I take friends or family, and I whip up a batch of rolls, buns, or loaves with no stress, no fuss, and little extra time in my day!  I highly encourage that if you’re not comfortable with your bread baking, this New Year, consider challenging yourself to master this art.

Italian Bread

I’ve got the perfect recipe to get you started!  This Rustic Italian Bread is extremely simple, very versatile (throw in a clove of roasted garlic, fresh herbs like Rosemary or Thyme, or top it with grated cheese for a whole new variety), and tough to screw up.  I can’t wait to hear how you make this basic bread recipe your own favorite mouthful.

Once you’ve mastered this one, try a dessert variety like Chocolate Babka Bread – makes perfect holiday gifts and is delicious as a breakfast bread with a strong cup of coffee!!

Rustic Italian Bread

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 1 loaf

Rustic Italian Bread

This rustic Italian bread recipe is so easy & versatile! It can be used to make sandwiches, served with pasta or a pot roast, or formed into basic buns for homemade subs or hamburgers. This is a great recipe for newbie bread bakers.

Ingredients

  • 3 c. Flour
  • 1 c. Warm Water (100° - 110°)
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Egg White, slightly beaten
  • Cornmeal or Polenta (optional)
  • Coarse Sea Salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar, & water. Allow to sit & activate for 5 minutes. Add oil.
  2. In another bowl, whisk flour & salt together. Add to yeast mixture & stir to combine. Turn out on a lightly floured surface & knead for 10 minutes, until smooth.
  3. Place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat, cover & let rise in warm place (85°) for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  4. (Alternatively: Place first 6 ingredients in a bread machine & set to "dough" cycle)
  5. Punch down & let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Form into a ball (or rolls, buns, breadsticks, etc) & place on baking sheet or bread stone sprinkled with cornmeal or polenta. Cover & allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  7. Using a very sharp knife, cut a few slits in the top of the bread & brush loaf with beaten egg white. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
  8. Bake in 375° preheated oven for 25 - 35 minutes, or until lightly golden & crisp on the top & sounds hollow when tapped. (Bake for only 10-15 minutes if making rolls, buns, or breadsticks.)
  9. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Notes

For a new flavor, try adding a head of roasted garlic, fresh herbs like Rosemary or Thyme, or top with shredded cheese!

http://fromfoodiewithlove.com/rustic-italian-bread/

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Diana Smith Hill January 5, 2016, 12:50 am

    I am in the process of learning to make bread myself.
    I made some Challah bread at Christmas for myself and neighbors.
    I want to try this recipe.

    • Alecia Stanley January 5, 2016, 1:49 pm

      I’m sure you’ll love this bread!! Let me know how it turns out.

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