It has been getting more and more difficult to find decent Italian bread to eat around here. We don't like the pasty American bread and the Italian breads we used to enjoy are different now. Bakeries have been sold, recipes have been changed, quality has decreased to the point where they don't taste good. Our birds get a lot of leftover bread. The birds are happy. Us - not so much.
I was thinking about investing in a bread machine so I could make my own but have not been able to find one that will do the things I want to get the kind of loaf of bread I will eat.
So - yesterday - I decided to pull out my Grandma Cordera's Italian bread recipe and have a go at it. I thought it would take forever and would end up a big mess and not at all like her bread. Surprise! It was easy. It turned out wonderful and I ate way too much of it for dinner.
I worked on it while I was doing other things in the kitchen so it didn't seem to take much time at all. Here's the recipe.
1 small potato
2 1/2 cups water
2 Tablespoons Crisco
7 teaspoons SAF Instant Yeast or 2 packages dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
3 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
6-8 cups all-purpose flour
… Peel and cook one small potato in water until it is very soft. Drain the potato reserving the water. Measure the water. You should have 2 1/2 cups. If not, you will add more - but later. Not now. Right now, measure the potato water so you know how much you have. Then add 2 Tablespoons of Crisco to the hot potato water and stir to dissolve. Sieve the potato into the water and stir. Now you can add more water so that you have added a total of 2 1/2 cups of water in with the potato and Crisco.
… In another bowl, dissolve 1 Tablespoon of sugar in 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Stir in 7 Tablespoons of SAF Instant Yeast or 2 packages of dry yeast. Let stand util bubbly - about 10 minutes.
… When the potato water is cool and the yeast mixture is bubbly combine the two in a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer bowl.
… Add 3 teaspoons of salt, 1 Tablespoon of sugar and 6 cups of all-purpose flour. Beat well in mixer using paddle for two minutes.
… Gradually add more flour to form a soft dough. When dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, remove paddle and use dough hook to continue mixing for 3-4 minutes.
… Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead about 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary until the dough no longer feels sticky. The amount of flour you add will depend on the temperature and humidity in your kitchen, the moisture in the flour which differs from day to day and brand to brand. The dough should have a smooth, satiny elastic texture. Form it into a ball.
… Spray a bowl with vegetable spray and place the dough ball in it and cover the bowl with a towel. Place the bowl in a warm location. If your house is air conditioned to the max, your dough will not rise. I took my dough bowl up to the attic to let it rest for 45 minutes or until it doubled in bulk. To test - press the tips of two fingers lightly into the dough about 1/2 inch. If the indenture stays, the dough is ready.
… Using your fist, punch the dough down t deflate it.
… Pinch or cut off small sections to make plain rolls, breadsticks or form into loaves into any desired shape or size. Place pieces or breadsticks on baking sheets covered with parchment paper. If using a bread loaf pan, spray it first with vegetable spray. Cover dough balls or loaves with towels and return them to a warm place to rise once more - until double.
… Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
… When dough is double in bulk, brush melted butter on the tops of the buns, breadsticks and loaves.
… Bake large loaves about 50 minutes; buns go for 20-25 minutes.
Italian Recipe by the "Cookie Queen" - Patricia Condelli
Cookie Queen Cookies & Cookbooks
1053 Edgewood Road, New Kensington, PA 15068
Phone: 724 339-0920
WebSite Cookie Queen Books