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Crusty Italian Bread

Crusty Italian Bread

This is the Crusty Italian Bread you find in the delicatessen. It is a truly delicious loaf. This recipe is for 2 loaves but you can easily use it for rolls of any shape. Just watch the baking time and be sure they don’t burn.

Ingredients

 

Starter or poolish

  • ¾ cup bread flour
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • ½ teaspoon dry yeast

To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.

 

Dough

  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • ¾ cup lukewarm water
  • 2¾ cups bread flour
  • 1½ teaspoons salt

 

Method

Combine the starter and the remainder of the dough ingredients. Mix well then knead the dough either by hand or with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes, punch down and let it stand for another 45 minutes.

On a lightly floured work surface, divide into two pieces. At this stage you can work out if you want rolls or loaves. This recipe will make two large loaves.

When you have divided the dough into loaves, cover and allow to stand for 60 to 90 minutes, or until it’s very puffy. The time for this is dependent on the temperature of your kitchen.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F -180C. For fan forced ovens reduce the heat to about 400F – 160C

Bake the loaves until top is golden, around 25 to 35 minutes.

For and extra crisp loaf, cool it in the turned-off oven with the door propped open.

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