This is a basic delicious Italian bread.
I really like this bread I gave it 5 stars for taste but I'm giving it 3 stars for the directions. I found I had to find my own way through the directions, it states cook time 1 hour, I found that 30 min. is plenty (I am using a baking stone). Also regarding step 4, when you separate it and place it back in the bowl to rise once again it becomes one round of dough, so why separate it? The second time I made it I skip the separating part but did punch down and let rise again, then separated it into loaves after the second rising. Now in step 6, where it says to turn occasionally, I just skipped that step all together because I found that step too awkward and as far as "done when golden brown" well after 30 minutes of baking the loaves are closer to dark brown, and I'm only baking it in half the designated time. I really like the taste of this bread and after playing with this recipe several times I now have no problems but I did the first few times I made it. It seems others didn’t have any problems but I did, so for what it’s worth these are just some of the problems I encountered. - 27 Jun 2005 (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)
Good recipe, works well if you add a little italian seasonings in with the ingredients. As a culinary student I've tried and failed with bread many times before getting some decent results. Here's what I've found that may help some previous reviewers: 1) Proof your yeast as directed (mixing water, yeast, & sugar)-- if it doesn't start bubbling or frothing after 10 min, throw it out. Either the yeast is dead (check expiration date) Or you killed it with HOT tap water > 120 degrees F kills yeast. Optimal temp is LUKE warm around 100F. 2) Mist the bread with water every 3 min for the first 10 min. Why? This does 3 things. Prevents the crust from forming too fast thus restricting the rising process. It moisens the crust just enough so it doesn't brown/burn at the end of the baking period - you get a golden brown instead of a dark heavy crust. And it finally makes the crust crispier. This is a very important step. It also helps if you have a bowl of water in the oven to increase the humidity percentage. Professional ovens have adjustable humidity controls which add moisture in. Why only 10 min? You can mist for longer but you'll end up with a thin white crust instead of golden brown. Once the bread has risen to its full potential (within the 1st 10 min or so depending on the size of the loaf), then you want it to start becoming golden brown. UPDATE - Bake until internal temp is 200 F - whatever the shape or size. - 09 Apr 2006 (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)
OHMYGOD. YUM. Keep in mind that less handling after rising has started, the better the flavor. My first loaf was good, but after I read up a bit on proper dough handling, the flavor increased tenfold - it went from good to great bread. Bring the ingredients together and let sit for 15 minutes before you knead to hydrate and relax. After 15, knead like crazy until smooth like a baby's bottom. Coat with oil, place in a bowl, cover and let rise until doubled. INSTEAD OF KNEADING THE LIVING TAR OUT OF THE DOUGH, gently but firmly smoosh the dough out, fold in thirds and press with your palm, fold in thirds and press, fold in thirds and press. Form a ball, coat, cover, and let rise again. Divide into two or three loaves (we prefer two larger loaves), fold and press again and shape for final rise. Score the loaves, spritz 'em with water, and slide 'em on into the oven. Pour some water into a preheated pan under the loaves for steam and quickly shut the door (no need for opening and spritzing!). A baking stone REALLY helps with the crust texture. I also love using those perforated "professional" loaf pans (sans cornmeal, of course). Better handling DOES equal better flavor! The difference is amazing!!! - 02 May 2008 (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)