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Italian Bread
Breads | Italian

1-3/4 cups warm water (105°-115°)
2 packages active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
5  to  5-1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour

Place 1/2 cup warm water in large warm bowl.  Sprinkle in the yeast; stir until dissolved.  Add remaining water, salt and 2 cups of the flour.  Blend well.  Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Place in greased bowl, turning to grease the top.  Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 40-60 minutes.

Punch dough down.  Remove dough to lightly floured surface; divide in half.  Roll each half to a 12-inch circle.  Roll each circle up tightly as for jelly roll to make a loaf.  Pinch seams and ends to seal; taper ends by gently rolling back and forth.  Place loaves, seam side down, on large greased baking sheet.  Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 40-60 minutes.

Lightly dust loaves with additional flour, if desired.  With sharp knife, make 3-4 diagonal slashes (1/4-inch deep) across top of each loaf.  Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until done.  Remove from sheet; let cool on wire rack.

Makes 2 loaves.

(from Fleischmann's Yeast Best-Ever Breads, 1993)



Dorothy's Variation - Focaccia Bread

To turn this bread into a wonderful Focaccia Bread, shape Italian bread dough into a round flat loaf and let rise for about an hour (I put it on a pizza stone.)

Poke holes all over the dough, about 3-4 inches apart.  Drizzle with about 1/2 cup olive oil, then put your favorite toppings on it (I use sautéed onions, fresh basil, fresh sage, fresh rosemary, a few mild peppers cut into julienne strips, and pitted kalamata olives).  Sprinkle the top with freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Asiago cheese.  Let rise another 30 minutes. 

Bake at 400 degrees F. for about 25-30 minutes.



Focaccia Bread