Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Italian bread dough

This basic dough is the basis of Italian loaves, garlic bread, pizza and focaccia. You can substitute some of the white flour with whole wheat or semolina. If you have a heavy duty stand mixer with a dough hook, it makes preparation very easy.

2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp. dried yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar (optional, speeds rising)
1 Tbsp. salt
5-7 cups white flour (can substitute up to half with whole wheat flour)

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the sugar, if using, in a large bowl, and allow to sit for 2-10 minutes to “proof”- it should bloom in the water and become frothy. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat vigorously for 2 minutes. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft but substantial dough.

For long Italian bread (as for garlic bread), roll half of the dough out on a floured surface to make a rectangle about 8”x16”. Roll into a 16” roll and place on a baking sheet which has been oiled and/or sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina. Make several diagonal slits in the top of the loaf. Let rise. Before baking, brush with water or egg to make more crispy. If you use egg, you can sprinkle the loaf with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake 400°20-25 minutes. It should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Let cool fifteen minutes before slicing.

For rounder Italian bread, roll and shape as desired.

For pizza or focaccia, roll out as desired. Bake 450°12-15 minutes with toppings.

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