Sunday, October 25, 2015

Simple Italian Bread

1 tablespoon cane sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (about 110°F)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 1/2 to 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
optional: cornmeal

Mix sugar and yeast to warm water and let dissolve for 1 minute. Gradually add salt and flour to liquid and stir until dough pulls from sides of bowl. Turn out onto floured surface to knead.

Kneading technique: Fold far edge of dough back over on itself towards you. Press dough away with heels of hands. After each push, rotate dough 90°. Repeat process in rhythmic, rocking motion.

Knead dough for about 3 minutes. Continue to sprinkle flour on dough as needed to keep it from getting sticky. Let dough rest while you scrape out and grease mixing bowl. Knead dough again about 3 more minutes until bouncy and smooth.

Place dough in bowl and turn over once to grease the top. Cover with damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk (1 to 2 hours). Especially if it is cool out, it is recommended to place dough bowl in microwave, or another place free of drafts.

After an hour or two, turn out onto lightly floured surface. Gently deflate the dough and briefly knead out gas bubbles, just for a minute or so. Cut in half and shape into 2 Italian or French-style loaves. Place on baking sheet generously sprinkled with cornmeal.

Cover with damp clothe and let loaves rise for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450°F for 15 minutes. Pour 2 to 3 cups of boiling water into a roasting pan. Carefully place on the lowest rack of the oven. Place bread on an oven rack above the pan, and bake 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the bread to remain in the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove and let cool for at least 5 minutes before trying to slice. Allow loaves to completely cool before wrapping for storage.

Adapted From

makes 2 loaves, about 16 slices each
75 calories  |  0g fat  |  16g carbs  |  2g protein