Homemade bread is simply the best thing ever. There is something so soothing about kneeding the bread and the smell, oh the smell. It’s heaven! I had been searching for a good Italian bread recipe and when I saw this one on Annie’s Eats I knew I found it. I’ve made this bread a handful of times and each time it comes out better. The recipe calls for the bread to be kneaded in the stand mixer for a total of 10 minutes. But I found that once the dough started to come together and was still a little sticky, kneading it by hand was better. I added flour to the dough as I kneaded it so it wouldn’t stick to me or the counter. I think by doing that you don’t over flour it.
You need to allow a lot of time for making bread, but the smell of the house and the bread alone is well worth all the work!
*You will need to start the process the night before you want to bake it.
For the preferment:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup bread flour
- ½ tsp. instant yeast
For the dough:
- All of the preferment
- 5 cups bread flour
- ½ cup nonfat dry milk
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar or granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 2 tsp. instant yeast
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cups water, at room temperature
- To make the preferment, combine the water, flour and yeast in a medium bowl. Mix well to blend, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature at least 4 hours and up to 16 hours.
- When you are ready to make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the preferment, 4 cups of the flour, dry milk, sugar, salt, yeast, olive oil and water. Mix on low speed until a sticky dough has formed. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour ¼ cup at a time. Continue kneading on low speed until the flour has been incorporated (At this stage is when I’ve taken it out of the bowl and hand kneaded it. You will end up adding more than 5 cups of flour) and you have a dough that is smooth and elastic, and no longer sticky. The total kneading time should be about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a well greased bowl, turning once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature until approximately doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch down the dough, cover once more, and let rise again for 30 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough once or twice and divide into two equal portions. Cover the two pieces of dough with a damp towel and allow to relax for 20 minutes.
- Shape the two portions of dough into the desired final shape and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat . Cover again with a damp kitchen towel and let rise until approximately doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Just before placing the loaves in the oven, brush or spray them lightly with water. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes before rotating them. Bake another 20-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 200˚ F. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
Source: Annie’s Eats