fresh italian loaves

Homemade bread absolutely delights me. There’s something so special about the act of rolling out dough, letting it rise, and watching it bake and become beautiful in your oven. The aroma isn’t so bad, either.

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Perhaps it also means so much to me because growing up, my mom was constantly making homemade bread. As I’ve mentioned before, we grew up with a bread maker in our kitchen, one that saw so much action, I think that we went through two or three {at least} before I up and went to college.

It was one of my first “big” purchases as an adult, for my very own kitchen. I wanted to carry on that tradition that my mom started – homemade doughs and rolls, fresh loaves so tall you have to slightly tear off the top from the machine. It definitely holds a special place in my heart, and one I can’t wait to share with my children someday. For now, the hubs and I delight in constant bread rotation.

The recipe today is one that is practically a staple in our kitchen; if there’s not one in the bread box, there’s a loaf in the freezer, yearning to be thawed and toasted for the next meal. These Italian loaves are so, so simple; a few simple ingredients come together to form a bread that is so light and airy on the inside, but perfectly golden and crisp on the outside, it’s impossible to resist…especially out of the oven. We especially love it served warm, with some herbed olive oil on the side for dipping. It makes wonderful sandwiches; can be transformed into croutons for breakfast casseroles and bread puddings or, if you’re like us…you dig right in when it’s hot out of the oven.

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Fresh Italian Loaves {yields two large loaves}

Perfectly simple to prepare; all ingredients process together in the bread machine. A simple roll and rise is all it takes for fresh bread to be produced from your oven in no time! I’ll note here that you can also find great success using half whole wheat flour; the results will be nuttier and a bit heartier, perfect for pairing with rich soups and stews.

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups water

1 tsp. honey

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

3-1/2 cups bread flour

2-1/2 tsp. yeast

1 heaping tbsp. vital wheat gluten, optional

To Prepare:

Add the ingredients into your bread machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The dough cycle on mine lasts about an hour and fifty minutes, with the option to add additional time if I’m going to be running in and out of the house, doing errands, etc. Don’t feel the need to check on the dough as it processes! – the heat will be lost and you run the chance of compromising the integrity of the dough.

As the cycle comes to a close, prepare your baking sheet by sprinkling it with cornmeal. This results in a crisp bottom; feel free to use as much {or as little} as you’d like.

Once the dough is ready, turn out onto a floured rolling surface. Divide into two discs; place on aside. Begin with the first disc by rolling out into a rectangle, roughly 12″-14″ wide x 8″-10″deep. Starting at the long edge closest to you, “jelly roll” the rectangle; that is, roll it on top of itself {it will be like making a cinnamon roll}. Seal the edges and seam by pinching tightly with your fingers. Place directly onto the prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with the other disc.

Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise 50 minutes in a warm location.

About 20 minutes before the rising stage is complete, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Once the rising stage is complete, slash the top of each loaf 5 or 6 times with a sharp knife, and brush lightly with cold water. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, keeping a close watch. The bread should should hollow when tapped, and be a beautiful golden brown.

Serve with any of your favorite spreads – I love using my compound butter!

bread will keep fresh on the counter, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days. Freeze any remaining by wrapping in foil.

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8 thoughts on “fresh italian loaves

  1. Fresh baked bread is heavenly! I have taken a break from using my bread maker as my family and I were enjoying it a bit too much! I might make a loaf on the weekend as a treat. Thanks for sharing!

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