Sunday, June 8, 2014

Italian Supermarket Bread

Bread baking is one of my "things!"  I've always loved it, from when I was a young girl.  I can remember playing and playing with bread dough recipes, and since I've been married I've made all kinds of bread, from sourdough to special breads at the holidays.  Nowadays, if our grown daughter is home for the holidays, I always have to make "Christmas Tree Bread," one of her childhood favorites, and then there's always Caramel-Nut Sticky Buns, Cinnamon Rolls and more.  While I love the sweet breads too, my tastes go much more to the savory loaves of Sourdough French Bread or Crusty Hearth Bread. To me there's nothing better than the smell of bread baking in the kitchen! (recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour)

4 cups organic, unbleached all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur Flour)
1/4 cup dried potato flakes
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp yeast (I used SAF Red Instant Yeast from King Arthur Flour)
1/3 cups lukewarm water
3 tbls. olive oil
Sesame seeds (optional)
1 egg white mixed with 1 tbls. water (to brush on top of loaves)

In a large bowl, stir together all of the dough ingredients until it all comes together. 

Knead the dough for 5 to 8 minutes, until it's smooth and supple, adding more water or flour as needed. 

Cover the dough and allow it to rise for 1 hour, or until it's doubled in bulk. 

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and divide it into two pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth 16" log. Place the logs into the two sections of a baguette pan, cover, and let the loaves rise until very puffy, about 1 hour. 

Brush the loaves with the egg wash, then sprinkle heavily with sesame seeds (optional)

Slash the loaves diagonally, making 3 slashes in each, and immediately put them in the oven. 

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown. 

For the crispiest crust, turn off the oven, prop the door open, and allow the bread to cool in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Remove from oven, remove loaves from baguette pan and cool on cooling rack.