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Gretchen’s Cookbook - Italian Bread recipe
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Italian Bread

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2 Tbsp. yeast (2 packets) 2 1/2 c. warm water 1 Tbsp. salt 1 Tbsp. butter, melted 7 c. flour 1/4 c. cornmeal (for dusting) 1 egg white 1 Tbsp. cold water
Add a homey touch to spaghetti dinner with sliced Italian bread served with olive oil for dipping. Warm your mixing bowl, then add 2 1/2 c. warm water. The water should be about 105F, a "nice warm bathwater" temperature. Add yeast and let stand a few minutes. Add salt, butter. Gradually add flour. (Easy like pie if you've got a Kitchen-Aid with a dough hook.) Dough will be on the sticky side, even after all the flour is added. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Add the dough to the bowl, then flip, so that the top side has a little film of nonstick. Cover and let rise in a warm place protected from drafts until doubled in bulk, about an hour. Prepare a large baking sheet by spraying with nonstick and scattering the cornmeal on top. Punch dough down and divide into halves. Roll each half into a rectangle 12 in. x 15 in. Roll dough tightly and tuck ends down. Place on prepared baking sheet. Be sure to give the dough enough room to rise a bit more. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Allow to rise again until almost doubled in bulk, about 45 min. Preheat oven to 450F. Using a sharp knife, make 4 diagonal cuts on top of each loaf. Bake at 450F for 25 min. Remove from oven. Beat egg white with cold water to create an egg wash. Brush each loaf with egg wash. Return to oven and bake 5 minutes more. Remove from sheet and cool on wire rack. (Otherwise, the bottoms of your loaves will get soggy.)
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Contributed on: and modified on Monday January 21st, 2008

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