When Dino was growing up, his mother would bake many loaves of bread at a time. He reminisces coming home from school on bread making day and smelling the bread baking even before getting to the house. He remembers walking in through the side door into the kitchen and thinking that it looked like a morgue with up to 20 loaves of raising bread covered with tea towels! (snaps and snails, and puppy-dogs’ tails. That’s what little boys are made of…) Standing at the butcher block, cutting into that first warm loaf, probably a little too soon, and spreading it with a big chunk of butter, it was always the best.
Now, I make bread every winter, not only because I love it, but because of what it means to me, memories of family and home.
This recipe is not an Italian bread recipe, but simply one you can use every day. It’s very good with soups, as a sandwich, toasted with eggs etc… Please don’t be afraid of trying it. I have made this recipe for years, it’s very quick, simple, and consistently good.
(Recipe makes 2 loaves)
2 1/2 cups HOT water
1/3 cup oil ~ I used sunflower oil but canola would be good too
1/3 cup honey (fill cup with oil first, empty it, and then fill it with honey so it doesn’t stick to the cup}
1 TBSP salt
7 3/4 cup flour ( 3/4 cup first then the 7 cups. I used 6 cups first and then added more as needed.)
2 packets of yeast or 1 1/2 TBSP
1. Whisk together in large bowl: Water, oil, honey, and salt.
2. Add: 3/4 cup flour and whisk for 30 seconds, then add the yeast and whisk for 30 seconds more.
3. Add 2-3 cups of flour and mix together with a spoon.
If using a mixer (ie Kitchen Aid), add the rest of the flour and mix for about 3 minutes with the dough hook. Then remove dough ball and place on very lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 6 minutes
If mixing by hand, add the rest of the flour and mix until shaggy looking and hard to work with a spoon. Knead in the bowl a few times and then turn the dough out onto a floured counter. It will be floury at first, if it isn’t, add more flour and keep another cup in reserve off to the side if you need to add more while kneading. Knead for 7-8 minutes to get a nice elastic dough. The dough should be soft and a little tacky but not sticky.
4. Spray a large glass or ceramic bowl with oil. Place dough inside. Cover the bowl with oil sprayed plastic wrap, and then put a clean tea towel over top and place in a warm spot. I turn my oven on low to get it warm, turn it off, and place my bowl in there until the dough rises. It takes about 30 minutes. You want it to double in size but not much more than that.
5. When the dough has doubled, remove from the oven and preheat it to 175 degrees.
6. Grease your bread pans with spray oil. Divide the dough.
7. Grease your counter top with more spray oil. Cut the dough in half. Roll it out a rolling pin into a long oblong shape. You should hear air popping out of the dough as you roll it. Roll all the way to the edges and roll it out until all air bubbles are gone. You want to try and get your dough to roll out to the width of your pan. You can narrow the dough by squishing the sides in as you roll it out if you need to.
8. Roll the dough up like you would a jelly roll or pumpkin roll. If your dough roll is too long for your pan, tuck the ends under a little.
9. Do the same for the other half of bread dough.
10. Place loaves in warm 175 degree oven for about a 1/2 hour or until the dough has risen to fill the pans (almost doubled)
11. Turn the oven up to 350 degrees and cook for about 30 minutes. The bread is done when you hit the top and it sounds hollow. If the crust is getting too brown, cover it lightly with a piece of foil. The bread isn’t done until you hear the hollow sound.
12. Turn loaves out on a wire rack. Sometimes I brush the tops of the bread with olive oil, but you don’t have to do this. Let the bread cool a little before slicing. Wrap and store in tin foil. This freezes well also.