Saturday, May 12, 2012

Italian Peasant Bread

This one was almost too easy.  A nice simple recipe, an easy dough to need, a quick rise and a very nice end product.  The only things I really changed was to use a stone (preheated in the oven) and a little steam by pouring a cup of water into a preheated pan on the lower shelf.  A pizza peel is a great tool for getting the loaf in and out of the oven.  It has a very nice flavour and great texture.  I will definitively use this recipe again. 

1 pkg. dry yeast
2 c. lukewarm water (105 to 110 degrees)
3 3/4 c. flour, divided
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Melted butter for brushing risen loaf
Sprinkle yeast over lukewarm water in a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour, whole wheat flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Stir in yeast-and-water mix thoroughly with a large spoon. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes, adding only enough of the remaining 1/4 cup flour to keep the dough from sticking, until smooth and springy. Shape the dough into a round loaf. Set loaf on a lightly floured baking sheet. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place, out of drafts, for 1 hour.Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Gently brush risen dough with melted butter. Wait for a minute or two and sprinkle lightly with flour. With a new, single-edge razor blade or the tip of a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 long, shallow cuts in the top of the loaf in one direction; repeat in opposite direction to form a "checkerboard." Bake for 10 minutes.
Lower to heat to 400 degrees and continue to bake for about 20 minutes, or until bread is lightly browned and sounds hollow when the bottom or sides are tapped.

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