Bread is probably the most common food in the world and is certainly a main stable in Italy.
Here is a basic bread recipe, which can be used in your own kitchen to make fragrant loaves or use as a starting point for many other traditional Italian recipes.
- ¾ lb Italian type “0” bread flour or all-purpose flour
- 5 oz high gluten bread flour
- ⅜ oz fresh yeast
- ½ oz salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup water
Pour the yeast into a cup of warm (about 100° F water). Stir and let dissolve for a minute or so.
In the meanwhile, mix together the two flours, forming a well on a cutting board or flat work surface.
Pour the water and dissolved yeast into the center of the well and the remaining warm water. Incorporate the water into the flours.
Work the dough well with your hands for a couple of minutes, then add the oil and the salt.
Continue kneading the dough for 15 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic.
If you prefer, you can use a mixer with a dough hook, allowing the machine to run for 10 minutes.
Once the dough is well-kneaded, let it rise for an hour in a dry place, covered with a cotton dishtowel.
The dough should double in volume.
Once the dough has risen, you can use it to prepare many different types of bread, following the instructions of your various recipes.
If, however, you want to make a traditional loaf, you should shape the dough to the size you want and let it rise, covered, for another hour.
Then turnover the loaves and make a couple of incisions in the dough to allow the air to release during cooking.
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in a 450° F oven until golden.
In order to ensure a well-done loaf, be sure to pre-heat your oven to 450° F before baking.
Given that cooking times vary based on the size of your loaf of bread, it is important to use other indicators for doneness.
When done, the bread should be dark golden in color and should sound hollow when you tap the loaf with your knuckles.
In order to keep the bottom of your bread from becoming soggy due to the vapor released during cooking, be sure to place your bread on a cooling rack as soon as it is removed from the oven.