May 2, 2008

Rustic parmesan bread


I told you I bake a lot when I go picnicking. And homemade bread has to be part of an Italian picnic! The simplest bread you can make follows almost the same directions as pizza dough. There are only two little secrets you need to know when making bread. First, let the dough rise overnight in your fridge. Second, put at least 1 cup of hot water in the oven while baking the bread (I use my Pyrex measuring cup). The long rise process will allow the bread to have a nice texture, while the water in the oven will provide humidity that will create a nice crust. And with a nice crust you can save your bread longer.

Ingredients (makes 1 big loaf)
5 cups bread flour
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups warm water
1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
Sesame seeds

The instructions are almost the same as before. Put the flour and cheese in a bowl and mix. Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of warm water and let it rise for about 2 minutes until it’s bubbly and it has doubled in volume. Add the yeast to the flour, add the olive oil and another cup of warm water, and incorporate using a fork. Add the salt and knead the dough with your hands. When the dough is smooth and elastic, refrigerate covered overnight. The next day, take the dough out of the refrigerator. Punch the dough with your hands, and knead for a while. Let it double its volume covered in a warm place – 30 min to 2 hours depending on how warm your kitchen is.

Shape the loaf. If you’re shaping a plain loaf then you have to make some cuts on top of the dough with a very sharp knife. Or you can use other creative shapes. For example you can roll out the dough in order to create one long strand of dough, about 3 times longer than your bread mold. Cut into three parts and make a braid. Transfer into the mold (already sprayed with non-stick oil), put some sesame seeds on top, brush with olive oil and let it rise covered. The braid should use more than 1/3 but less than ½ of the mold in height. It will be ready for baking when the dough has risen slightly above the edges of the mold. Bake in a preheated 425F oven, with one cup of hot water in the oven, for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out dry after inserted into the bread.
Posted by Daziano at 7:53 PM |  
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