Homemade Italian Bread

Heavy crust outside and soft on the inside, this bread recipe can also be used to make sandwich rolls, focaccia or pizza crust.  Doubles easily.  Can make rolls and bread or pizza and bread, etc. Often, I will time and a half the recipe and make one large loaf.  It seems better for sandwiches.

Yield: Makes 1 loaf

1 pkg active dry yeast

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups bread flour (For 1 loaf, 2 ¾ cups works well)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Combine yeast, sugar, and 1 cup warm water in bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer; let stand 5 -10 minutes. This makes the sponge. Add 2 cups flour, oil, and salt to bowl, and beat at low speed, using dough hook attachment, 1 minute. Gradually add additional flour until dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl and pull together. (Note: The dough will take on a “shaggy” appearance as the flour is being added. When enough flour has been added, the dough will look soft and smooth, not wet and sticky or overly dry with a rough surface. After each addition of flour, let it mix for a minute then touch it with your finger. If sticky, add a few more TBSP flour, and repeat last step. )
  2. Increase speed to medium, and beat 5 minutes. Cover bowl of dough with greased plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down, and let stand 10 minutes.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead for one minute, shape dough into a 12-inch loaf, and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Let rise for 15 – 20 min. Cut 3 – 4 (1/2-inch deep) slits across top of dough with a sharp paring knife. (The slits release interior steam and prevent the loaf from blowing apart.)
  4. If desired, brush top and sides with olive oil and generously sprinkle garlic powder, onion powder and any other seasoning you care to add (basil would be nice).
  5. Bake bread at 425° for approx. 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
  6. SANDWICH ROLLS: don’t shape into balls that are more than 1” high. They rise a lot when baking and they will be too thick. Bake rolls for 20-25 min. until deep golden brown
  7. Herbed Focaccia: Proceed with recipe as directed, shaping dough into a ball instead of a loaf. Roll dough into an 11- x 14-inch rectangle on a lightly greased baking sheet. Press handle of a wooden spoon into dough to make indentations at 1-inch intervals. Drizzle dough evenly with 1 tablespoon olive oil; sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning. Bake at 475° for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Pizza Crust: Proceed with recipe as directed, shaping dough into a ball instead of a loaf. Roll dough into an 11- x 14-inch rectangle on a lightly greased baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, or spread with pesto or pizza sauce, and sprinkle with desired toppings. Bake at 475° for 20 to 25 minutes.

Gail Westover, a Treasure Lake resident has been cooking most of her life.  Hobbies come and go, as we all know, but for nearly 50 years, she has made homemade cooking a priority when it comes to feeding her family.  There is nothing she won’t cook, from Braided Danish and Marble Rye Bagels to International foods of all sorts.  “When you’ve cooked as many years as I have, nothing will scare you,” Gail says.  She admits that she has an extremely hard time following someone else’s recipe and has become a talented recipe developer.  We are happy to welcome Chew Wanna Eat? to The Lake News where you will have access to her creations.

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