When my home is filled with the scent of bread baking in the oven it always brings back nostalgic memories of my childhood.
On Friday’s when I’d come home from school, and before even reaching the front door, the aroma of fresh baked bread filled the air as Friday’s was my mom’s baking day—breads, buns, pies and cookies—she made enough for the week ahead to feed a family of seven.
A slice of delicious love with creamy butter, and homemade jam awaited me for an after school snack.
When I had a day off from school, I would help, and it is at our kitchen table that I learned how to put love into baking and cooking. I made a lot of mistakes when trying it on my own, but my mother taught me that making mistakes is how one learns to make great meals.
As I watched her knead the dough for the breads, I saw how much love she put into each loaf, and how happy it made her when they came out of the oven, all risen and deliciously golden.
She would always make the sign of the cross, and say a silent prayer after she finished kneading the dough.
I followed this routine, as I knew she was giving thanks for the flour, yeast and all the food she was able to prepare.
I told her once that it was such a nice tradition to give thanks while baking.
She told me that it was one of the reasons she prayed while baking, the other reason was that she prayed the dough would rise. 🙂
ITALIAN BREAD RECIPE
Following is my recipe for making bread and buns. I did learn to knead the dough by hand, but thanks to modern technology, a stand mixer does a great job as well, and saves time.
I’m also sharing a tip on how to make your crust golden and crisp and the inside of the bread soft and chewy for a scrumptious slice of carb heaven.
- 1 and ¼ c warm water (between 100F & 110F)
- 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 4 cups flour (You can use any of these flours: 00 or bread flour or all purpose flour)
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- spray bottle with water
- A tray of ice cubes or a oven-proof bowl of water
- In a small bowl, add: yeast, sugar & water, and stir lighty. Cover with a cloth and let it sit for 10 minutes, or until yeast doubles.
- Add the yeast into your stand mixer bowl (if not using a stand mixer, add into a large bowl), then slowly add 3 cups of flour and the salt.
- Using a dough hook on the mixer, mix everything at low speed. Use a spatula to scrape the sides.
- When all ingredients are incorporated well, mix on medium-low speed for 2 minutes. (If not using a stand mixer, mix with a large wooden spoon for 8 to 10 minutes).
- Cover bowl with a dish towel and allow dough to rest for 1/2 hour.
- After 1/2 hour, turn mixer to low, and add 1 cup of flour, 1/4 cup at a time, mixing on low until all the flour is incorporated. (If not using a mixer, use your hand to mix the dough well).
- If the dough is wet and shaggy, add a bit more flour (about 1/4 cup or less) until you get a smooth consistency and it does not stick to the sides of the bowl.
- Set mixer at medium speed, and mix for 8 minutes. (If you are not using a mixer, then knead the dough by hand for 25 minutes).
- Once you’ve finished the kneading process, add some olive oil to a bowl, then put the ball of dough into the bowl and ensure dough is all coated with oil.
- Cover bowl with a tea towel (or you can use plastic wrap) and let the dough rise in a warm (draft-free) area for one hour (should be doubled in size)
- Preheat your oven to 400F (doing this at this point will ensure your oven is hot enough to bake the bread)
- Put an oven proof bowl of water at the back of your oven
- You can either use loaf pans or a baking sheet to bake the bread, whichever you use, line with parchment paper, and after the dough has risen, sprinkle flour on a surface and use this surface with floured hands to shape your bread into an oblong loaf.
- Put your dough either on the baking sheet or in a loaf pan.
- Using your spray bottle with water, spritz the dough, cover and let it rise for 40 minutes.
- After 40 minutes, score the loaf with a sharp knife, with criss cross slashes or diagonal slashes
- Put the dough in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- While bread is baking, spritz the loaf fully with your spray bottle every 10 minutes
- To check if bread is done after 30 minutes of baking, you can use an instant read thermometer (190F means it’s done), or tap the bottom and it should sound hollow.
- Once baked, allow the bread to cool on a cooling rack for 15 to 20 minutes.
HOME MADE FRESH BUNS
You can use the same recipe and technique to bake buns.
Bake buns for 15 minutes.
The bread or buns would be great with a steaming bowl of Italian Barley Soup. Click here for recipe.
This blog post is dedicated to my mamma. A beautiful, witty, loving, strong woman who lives in my heart and memories every day of my life.
I’m sure she’s baking a lot of goodness in Heaven.
I love you, my Angel.