I made Italian bread for our last Christmas dinner get together. Schedules conflicted and we couldn’t all get together until January 8th. Barbecued ribs were going to be served so I thought garlic bread would go well with the meal. Of course I wanted to make my own bread!
I went with Mama D’s Italian Bread recipe from Allrecipes.com. It calls for letting the dough raise three times instead of the traditional two which results in a deeper flavor.
First the warm water mixed with sugar with the yeast on top to proof the yeast or wake them up.
My 25lb. bag of bread flour almost gone!
A few cups of flour to get the dough started.
My kitchen companion.
After you add the water/sugar/yeast mixture I use the paddle attachment because it mixes it up better while it is still wet.
Then you started adding more and more flour until the dough starts to come together. My KitchenAid was protesting a bit at this point so that is when I switch to the dough hook.
Then adding more flour until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl. I have learned in my bread making self-education that wetter dough is better. Sticky even! I used to add way too much flour to my bread just so it won’t stick. However, the more moisture that is in the dough the more steam that gets released during the baking process causing more lift (ovenspring) and a softer crumb.
I turned my dough out at this point because this recipe makes a lot of dough and as the gluten develops the dough starts to climb up my hook! I tried a new method of kneading called air kneading. Pretty much you just pick it up and stretch it and twist it in the air. As you do the gluten strands start coming together and you’ll notice that your dough stretches further and further every time. This technique is much easier if you have a wetter dough.
Kneaded until smooth and elastic. I’m still experimenting with getting the correct amount of gluten development. Apparently there is a point where you can overdevelop the gluten. I am not sure if I have done this yet. I think I am still erring on the side of underdevelopment, but I can’t be certain. The test for gluten development is to take a bit of dough and stretch it and if it stretches and forms almost a window pane then the gluten is developed correctly. If the dough just breaks apart then the gluten needs more work. Or it’s had too much work. I’m still not sure how to tell the difference. Anyway that test is called a Gluten Window.
Placed into a oiled (cooking sprayed) bowl and coved with plastic warp to raise. Our house is kind of cold so I turn my oven on for about a minute and then put my dough in there.
Then as I back away from my counter I see all the miscellaneous things that Izzy was playing with while I was working on my bread.
First raise and I think it has doubled! I followed directions and deflated the dough, divided it, and returned it to the bowl for a second raise. I don’t think there is much point in dividing it though because after the second raise the pieces has merged back together. So I think just deflating it and folding it over on itself a few times would be sufficient.
After the second raise I shaped my loafs. I only did two because I wanted to do garlic bread. I know this is a French Bread shape and I used an Italian bread recipe, but it’s my party and I’ll do what I want!
My handy dandy exacto knife that I use for slashing the dough. You need a really sharp blade and what’s better than a razor blade for sharp?
The loaves all slashed. I could have actually slashed a bit deeper. I’m still intimidated about cutting my beautifully raised bread wide open. Then I used a spray bottle with water in it and generously doused each loaf. This helps the outside to stay soft a little longer in the oven and allows the loaf to expand more before the crust hardens. It also gives the crust a bit of a chewy texture. I also sprayed them down one more time about 5 minutes into the baking time.
Here are the beauties!
See how the slashes nearly disappeared. I also roasted three heads of garlic and then mashed the garlic up and mixed it with two sticks of butter. At my mother-in-law’s I cut the loaves lengthwise and spread the garlic butter on them and put them into the oven for about 10-15 minutes to melt the butter. They were delicious!!!!!