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Rustic Italian Bread

Colorado County, TX(Zone 8b)

8 cups of bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp instant dried yeast
4 tsp salt
4 cups warm water

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, salt together. Add the instant dried yeast to to the bowl of flour, along with the remaining 4 cups of warm water & the olive oil. Mix it with your hands, adding additional flour until you have a smooth ball of dough, then cover the bowl with a damp towel & place it in a warm spot to rise.

In a couple of hours, the dough will double in size. At this point, de-gas the dough by kneading it with your fists (while continuously folding it in thirds). Then place it back into the bowl to rise a second time (about an hour).

When that is done, it is time to form the dough into loaves. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board, divide the dough in half and gently shape into ovals or circles. Dust with flour and set aside to rise for about 30 minutes while the oven is preheating to 400 degrees.

Gently lift the bread and place it on a well-floured pizza peel or a well-floured piece of heavy cardboard. Slide onto the baking stone or cookie sheet in an oven.

I bake the bread for approximately 30 minutes in our oven, but each oven is different. If you thump on the bottom of the loaf and the sound is hollow, the bread is done.

When done, remove from the oven and allow to cool. We store them in a brown paper bags.

Yields two 2+ pound loaves.

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Colorado County, TX(Zone 8b)

The above recipe can also be used to make Pepperoni Bread, as well. Enjoy!!!

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Colorado County, TX(Zone 8b)

I saved the best variation for last... homemade Stromboli!!!

Filling:
24 slices pepperoni
16 slices of Genoa salami
8 slices ham
1/2 cup of black olives
1/2 cup of pepperonceli
6 slices provolone cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Of course you can always add whatever you like...

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Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

Now I'm hungry. Wow, those look delicious.... will have to give your recipe a try.....

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

OK, wrr, so happy we are able to chat about bread. I used to make artisan breads, but my experience was that it is only good the first day, and it doesn't freeze well. I never understood this--the handmade bread I get at the grocery store (HEB) does freeze well. What do I not know? Are they using preservatives? Does yours keep well?
~ pen

Colorado County, TX(Zone 8b)

It is always at its peak when its fresh out of the oven... the same can be said for just about any bakery product though. I normally bake bread every 3rd day & store it in a plain paper bag to help keep the crust crunchy. Any unused 'old' bread becomes breadcrumbs.

While I don't freeze bread, I do divide the uncooked dough into 2 or 3 balls & store them in the refrigerator (up to 3 days). When needed, I can one out. Shape it, let it rise & then bake.

I really like baking different breads. Since I retired, it has become one of my favorite hobbies!!!

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

Saving the uncooked dough is a great idea. I do that with rolls, dunno why I haven't thought to do it with bread.
Hey, make some bread pudding with that 'old' bread!
~ pen

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

Ok, could you PU-LEEZE give a short direction on how you do the Stromboli? That looks totally yummy. And I LOVE baking bread.

waukesha, WI(Zone 5a)

This looks similar to the No Knead bread that takes a day or so to rise. I don't care for the open texture of it, and it doesn't keep well. Maybe in a humid climate?

Colorado County, TX(Zone 8b)

Oh, you knead it all right. It keeps just fine (3 or 4 days), although it is always best fresh out of the oven, as I said earlier.

BTW, I used to live in Chippewa Falls.


Quote from Anna_Z :
Ok, could you PU-LEEZE give a short direction on how you do the Stromboli? That looks totally yummy. And I LOVE baking bread.


Sure thing Anna:

First, I mixed the dough by hand until it is a smooth ball & then place it into greased bowl. It is covered with a damp dish towel and allowed to rise for 4 hours. Once it was time to bake them, I removed the dough & place it on lightly floured counter. I stretched the dough as thin as possible. A rolling pin was then used to get a consistent thickness (about 1/8 inch thick) and a nice rectangular shape.

The filling was placed on the center of the dough leaving a 1 inch edge all around. I rolled the entire Stromboli like a jelly roll so that it formed a long cylindrical loaf. The edges were pinched and tucked under. At this point, I let it rest for about 30 minutes to get a little bit of more rise out of the dough.

Now I then cut a few slits on the top of the loaf to allow steam to escape during baking (be careful not to cut the loaf too much or you will have a 'blowout').

Next, I beat an egg in a small bowl, added some water to make a wash and brushed the outside of the loaf with it. This allows the crust to turn a golden brown color and gives it a bit of a crunch.

This Stromboli was baked on a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven for about 35 minutes at 400 degrees... although I pretty much just watch it until the crust turns brown. Then I took it out, let it 'rest' for 15-20 minutes before cutting & serving. Serve it with some sauce on the side & I guarantee that you & your family will love it!!!


This message was edited Jun 9, 2013 5:42 PM

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

Well, that doesn't sound too difficult. Only thing, I do NOT like hard, crunchy bread crusts. I guess I'd brush mine with butter immediately after taking it out of the oven.

Colorado County, TX(Zone 8b)

Quote from Anna_Z :
Well, that doesn't sound too difficult. Only thing, I do NOT like hard, crunchy bread crusts. I guess I'd brush mine with butter immediately after taking it out of the oven.


One thing about homemade bread, it is always a blank canvas that can be painted any way you envision it!

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