Italian Upper Crust
Whenever you want that sense of escapism or you are mulling over a decision in your mind that requires a solution or you want to entertain a group then baking is the ideal remedy. Baking Italian Style bread or any bread for that matter just kneading that dough is very therapeutic and it smells so good.
Wafts of the smell of baked bread linger in your kitchen, restaurant or venue well after you are finished. No words can be used to describe it but it makes you want to bake all over again. The ingredients are simple and always in ones pantry. What Italian’s describe as the essential food ingredients of life; Sugar, flour, water and of course olive oil.
There is not one event that you would attend that bread will not be present at the table. Sydney Weddings always display an array and it is all the more special when Italian style bread is present because you know it has been baked fresh. Navarra Venues as an example always bake fresh for their various events; weddings, engagement parties, birthdays, business luncheons the list is endless. Restaurants and cafes always like to bake fresh for their customers if they have the opportunity to do that because it is cheaper and customers will alway keep coming back.
WHAT MAKES ITALIAN STYLE BREAD DISTINCT?
When baking Italian Style bread what makes it distinct is that the bread has a crisp crust while moist and soft in the middle. The beauty of this style of bread is that it works well with any meal throughout the day.
This bread is thick, moist and very absorbent this is why it’s perfect to soak up sauces and oils. Having breakfast you can scoop up the egg yolk on your plate or it can be the perfect accompaniment to your soup or pasta for lunch and even dinner. Even a sandwich with prosciutto, provolone and rocket is absolute perfection.
What remains amazing about this bread is that unlike French bread its taste is savoury which adds to its versatility.
When baking this bread with your Italian music playing in the background ‘La Dolce Vita’ remember this bread is baked well on a stone to give it that signature golden brown thin crisp crust. If baked in a wood oven the bread has a much smokier flavour.
Try baking it yourself whilst working from home or pop in to Lilyfield’s Café Lobby where you are sure to experience it with a selection of your takeaway meals.
Comment and let me know how you ended up with your Italian bread. I would like to hear from you.
Gather the Ingredients to bake two loaves for the week
- 4 cups of lukewarm water (note: you might not need it all)
- 6 cups all-purpose flour, Oat flour blend or Wheat flour)
- 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 5 teaspoons of active dry yeast or a packet
- 2 tablespoons of Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of Sesame Seeds (This is optional to decorate the bread)
- Optional: cornmeal (for sprinkling on the baking sheet)
Gather all the ingredients and lay them out on your kitchen counter. Firstly in a bowl you will add 1 cup of warm water and dry active yeast and let it stand until it becomes creamy. (This should take approximately 5 minutes).
Pick up your large bowl and stir together the flour, salt and sugar. After 8 minutes take the yeast and give it a mix and add it to the flour mixture. You can mix it with a fork until it becomes sticky. At this point you can add the additional cup of water a little bit at a time and continue to form it in the shape of a ball. You may not require all of the water.
All you are doing is making sure the dough is a bit moist. Continue adding the flour until it becomes less sticky in your fingers as you knead the dough. As you continue to knead the dough sprinkle it with a bit more flour until you make it into a ball. It is a gentle rolling and tucking in gently until you get a smooth ball. Continue to knead the dough until it is firm with an elastic feel.
Once you are finished put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a kitchen towel until it rises. Depending on the temperature and the humidity this could take anywhere from thirty (30) minutes to one (1).The dough has risen
Once it has risen you add a little more flour and knead it into a ball again.What is optional and you can also do is place the dough back into the bowl again and let it rise one more time. Letting this Italian bread rise twice will make a better bread but if you do not have the time then it still will make a lovely authentic Italian style bread.
Grease a large baking sheet and if you like you can sprinkle it with coarse cornmeal. Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a lightly floured table. This is where you will divide the dough into two equal parts. Roll each dough half into an approximately 15 x 9-inch rectangle. Roll the dough tightly along the 15-inch side, pinch the seams, and taper the ends of each loaf with your hands at a 45-degree angle. The loaves should be elongated and oval shaped with tapered not pointed ends.
Final baking process
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. To get that perfect Italian crust on the outside all that is required is one tablespoon of olive oil and coat the dough with it. Once coated you can sprinkle a bit of sea salt or sesame seeds to decorate the bread. Next you score the top of the dough by making three (3) deep diagonal slashes with a sharp knife at a 45 degree angle. Simply bake it for 30 minutes until you hear a hollow sound when you tap the bottom of the bread. Once baked you can enjoy it either warm or cold.