Fabulous Crusty Italian Loaf

Total Time
3hrs 40mins
Prep
3 hrs
Cook
40 mins

'Pane Crostoso'--The Best sandwich bread. Delicious and surprisingly easy to make; just like the crusty loaves that you would purchase at your favorite Italian bakery (in my opinion). Adapted from "Cucina di Calabria" a cookbook of Calabrian recipes by Mary Amabile Palmer. This is also great with pasta (for dipping in the sauce!) or the second day as bruschetta or crostini. For bread machine, simply use machine to mix the dough and bring it through its first rise, then follow instructions for shaping loaves. Variation for making rolls follows at end of recipe. Preparation time includes rise time.

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Ingredients

Nutrition

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast with a quarter cup of the lukewarm water. Pour yeast into a large bowl. Mix in flour, sugar, salt, and remaining lukewarm water and mix in until dough starts to form. If too sticky, add a bit more flour.
  2. Turn out onto flat surface and knead for 6-8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Put dough into an oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with a thick towel, and let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled in size, or about 1.5-2 hours.
  3. For bread machine, just use to mix and do the first rising of the dough, then remove to shape into loaves and do second rise, following instructions below.
  4. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  5. Remove dough onto a floured surface. Punch down and shape into 2 oblong loaves about a foot long each. If you own a baking stone or unglazed ceramic tiles, dust lightly with cornmeal and put into preheated oven. Put loaves on a peel (large wooden spatula), also lightly dusted with cornmeal, or on a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise again for 40 minutes. Loaves will about double in width.
  6. In a small dish, add egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water. Slit tops of risen bread 3 or 4 times, making slits that are a quarter of an inch deep. With a brush, paint tops with egg wash. If on a peel, slide loaves onto stone or tile; otherwise put cookie sheet in oven.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 425°F Then lower heat to 400F and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until golden and baked through. To check if it's done, thump the bottom of each loaf; if it sounds hollow, it's done.
  8. Note: Although the original recipe has you bake it at a higher temperature for the first 10 minutes and then lower the temperature, I was able to bake it continuously at 400F for 40 minutes total and mine turned out perfectly. I am including both here so that you can decide, depending on your oven.
  9. Don't wait to let it cool; eat it when it's hot! Delicious!
  10. Tip: For crustier bread, put a shallow baking pan filled with boiling hot water on bottom shelf of oven.
  11. Variation: To make rolls, preheat oven to 400°F After dough rises, remove to a floured surface. Punch down dough and shape into 12-14 rolls. Place on cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Let rise for 20 minutes. Slit each roll once and paint tops with egg wash. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until golden and baked through.