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Italian Bread Recipe

Italian Bread Recipe - 2 18-inch loaves

Ingredients:

2 cups warm water (100o - 115oF)

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

2 packages active dry yeast

5 cups unbleached flour

1 teaspoon salt

Dab of tub-style safflower margarine

Cornmeal

1 egg white, slightly beaten

1 tablespoon cold water

Method:

In a small bowl, combine water and sugar, sprinkle yeast over top. Let stand 10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, salt and dissolved yeast. Mix with a wooden spoon about 30 seconds to combine ingredients. Gradually add 2 more cups of the flour.

 

Knead by hand or by machine, gradually adding remaining 1 cup flour, until dough is smooth and elastic. Put dough in a bowl greased with safflower margarine, turning once to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

 

Punch dough down. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and divide in half. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Roll each half into 10-15 inch rectangles. Roll up from long sides and seal well. Taper ends. Using a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across loaves. Place seam side down on bread pans greased with safflower margarine and lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise until nearly double, about 1 hour. To check if the dough has risen sufficiently, poke your finger in about 2 inches. If hold remains and does not close up when you remove your fingers, the dough has risen enough.

 

Bake in a 375oF oven 20 minutes. Push loaves out of pans and onto oven racks. Bake 10 minutes longer. Combine egg white and cold water, and brush loaves. Bake on oven racks 10-15 minutes longer or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Cool on wire racks.

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