There’s nothing my family enjoys more than a loaf of fresh baked bread anytime of the day. We all enjoy the way it makes our fifth wheel smell as well as the different tastes and textures we can create depending on the type of bread we’re making that day. I recently made a large pot of my famous Pasta e Fagioli Soup and decided to make a loaf of fresh Italian bread to go with it. I topped mine with black truffle sea salt and a bit of Italian Seasoning, but you can either leave it plain or let your imagination soar.
1 pkt active dry yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water (not lukewarm, but not boiling as we do not want to kill our yeast)
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine yeast, water, and sugar. Stir with a fork to combine and let sit for approximately 5 minutes, or until it has bubbled.
Add 3 cups of flour plus the salt.
Fit your mixer with the dough hook. Mix on slow speed until combined. Make sure to scrape the sides, if needed.
Bump the mixer speed up to medium-low and allow to mix for 2 minutes. Shut off mixer and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
Once 20 minutes have passed, turn the mixer back on to low and stir remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments until dough is no longer sticky. Note: you may not use all the flour or you may need more.
Now that the dough is no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl, increase your speed to the #2 setting and allow to knead for 8 minutes. If you do not have a stand mixer, you can knead your dough by hand for 20 minutes.
Remove the dough from the bowl and set aside. Oil your bowl thoroughly and replace dough, making sure to coat the top with a bit of oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.
Remove dough from bowl and place onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into the shape of a rectangle approximately 1″ thick. Fold it into thirds (as if you were folding a letter) and press a bit into an oblong shape, making sure the seam is on the bottom side of the dough.
Score with a knife and top with whichever herbs and spices you choose. Move to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Place a small pan with a few inches of boiling water onto the rack below the one which you will be baking your bread.
Mist your bread again with water and place in oven. After 10 minutes, remove bread and mist with water again. Repeat a third time after another 10 minutes have passed. Your bread will bake a total of 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.