Tag Archive | Italian baking

Be a star breadwinner.

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

    Directions:
  • 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.

It’s a Kneady Time of the Year

Few things in life are more comforting during cool, crispy weather than fluffy socks, soft lounge-wear, favorite background music (Beatles, Michael Buble, Rod Stewart, Ed Sheeran for me) and the scent of freshly baked goods.

 

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ITALIAN BUNS

This warm and cozy bread recipe will guarantee that you’ll be
complimented on your hot buns.

 

 

bread-1

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup + 3 TBSP water (tepid at 100 – 110 F)
  • 3/4 tsp. honey
  • 2 cups bread flour (if you don’t have bread flour, you can use all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 TBSP. olive oil (plus more for brushing)

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add water and honey to a small bowl, and stir so that the honey is incorporated with the water, then sprinkle the yeast on top of water, and let set for 5 minutes (or until yeast has foamed). Stir well.
  2. Add flour and salt into the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk together, then make a well in the middle. If you don’t have a stand mixer, do the exact same thing, using a large bowl.
  3. Add the water, honey, yeast mixture to the middle of the flour mixture.
  4. If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment and turn on medium, and let it knead until the dough forms a ball. If there is dough on the sides, simply scrape it off and let it continue kneading for 10 minutes. If you are not using a stand mixer, then knead with your hands on a floured board and knead. About 15 minutes.


    NOTE: Here is how you can check if your dough needs more kneading.
    Indent the dough with your fingertip, if the indentation fills back quickly, you’re dough has been kneaded enough and you’re ready to let it rise.

    If it stays looking like a deep dimple, continue kneading.

  5. Lightly oil (with olive oil) a large bowl, then form the dough into a ball, then roll the dough in the bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm draft-free area for 1.5 – 2 hours, the dough should be doubled in bulk.

    NOTE: I let the dough rise in the oven with the oven light on.

  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then punch down the dough, form the dough into 12 balls, keeping the rest of the dough covered as you form the balls
  7. Place dough balls on the baking sheet, cover, and let rise in a warm draft-free area for 1 hour (or until doubled in size).
  8. Preheat oven to 400F
  9. Brush each dough ball with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes. The buns should be golden, and you can tell if they are cooked by tapping the bottom of the bun—it should sound hollow.
  10. Once baked, remove from oven and put on a cooling rack. Can be enjoyed cooled or warm.

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Italian lovin’ from the oven.

Italian.
Sexy.
Sweet.
Hot.
Fresh.
Dunkable.
Nutty.

All words to describe my never-feel-guilty-pleasure.

I’m talking about homemade biscotti of course.

What? Did you think I was talking about my other never-feel-guilty for watching Antonio Cupo in a movie pleasure?

Pistachio-Almond-Orange Biscotti

BISCOTTI-2

Ingredients:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 TBSP vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 large orange, zested
*** Your choice here: 1.5 ounces Orange Brandy – or – 1.5 ounces of the juice from the orange
3 1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 TBSP sifted baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup un-salted, peeled pistachio
1 egg, beaten with 1 TBSP water (for egg wash)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, beat one egg and add 1 TBSP water, set aside. You’ll use this at the end.
  4. In a bowl, beat the following ingredients with a whisk until they are all well blended: oil, 3 eggs, vanilla, sugar, orange zest, (brandy or the orange juice, whichever you chose to use).
  5. In a separate bowl add all the following ingredients and mix together so that the nuts are evenly coated: flour, baking powder, salt, almonds, pistachios
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the egg/oil bowl mixture, and blend until you get a sticky smooth dough. Be careful not to mix too much, as you don’t want a cake consistency. If you feel the mixture is too dry, add a bit of the juice from the orange, until you get a sticky dough.
  7. Sprinkle flour on your work surface and also on your hands.
  8. Add the dough onto your work surface and divide dough into four equal balls.
  9. Add two of the dough balls on your cookie sheet, using your hands, press down until they are about 1/2 inch in thickness.
  10. Brush the top of each dough with your egg wash. A light coating. This is optional: You can sprinkle some sugar on top of each.
  11. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, they should be a light golden brown.
  12. Remove from oven and put them on a cooling rack, and let them cool completely. In the meantime, put the other two balls of dough onto your cookie sheet and repeat steps 9 to 12.
  13. Once they are cooled, slice them into 1/2 inch slices, crosswise.
  14. Put the sliced cookies on the cookie sheet and bake an additional 5 – 10 minutes.
  15. The second bake will depend on how crispy you’d like them. If you want them to be real hard, that they need to be dunked into hot coffee/tea, then you’d bake them longer. But if you are looking for a nice crunch, not too soft or not too hard, then 5 – 10 minutes is good.

If you have any questions about this recipe, please feel free to comment here and I’ll get back to you.

 

Buon Appetito!

BISCOTTI

 

I’m always excited when a blog follower downloads a recipe and gives me feedback. I am especially tickled, when they send me pictures and let me know how much they enjoyed the process and the fruits (or in this case, cookies) of their labour.

Thank you to Nancy Bristow for sending me the following pictures. She had fun baking these biscotti’s, and is planning on making more.

Here is a collage of her biscotti making adventure.

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