It's easy to make your own fresh, crusty bread. What could be more delicious than homemade bread, straight from the oven?
This is my recipe for Italian-style bread, like the bread at your favourite Italian restaurant. It tastes excellent dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Or smothered in butter if you like. I won't tell.
What's more, it's easy to achieve in just a couple of hours - most of which is rising time, leaving you free to get on with your chores.
The flavour of this bread comes from the extra rich dough. It is made with egg and milk, which not only makes it taste great but gives it a wonderful texture too.
You need a special trick to make the crust extra crunchy, but don't worry, it's very simple. I'll explain that bit when we get there.
You will need:
250g plain flour
5g instant dried yeast
1 large egg
50ml full fat milk
100ml hand-hot water
1. Combine the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the water last and pour it in little by little, squeezing everything together with one hand until you have a dough that is firm and sticky.
2. Leave the dough to rise for about an hour. It should approximately double in size.
3. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for a few minutes.
4. Use a rolling-pin to make the dough into an oval shape, then roll it up like a fat Swiss roll. Press the seam together firmly, to seal it. If is it reluctant to stick, brush the joint with some water to act like glue.
5. Place the loaf onto a baking tray and leave it to rise again for 40 minutes, by which time it will be springy to the touch.
6. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
7. When you are ready to bake the bread, use a sharp knife to score a line along the top, about a centimetre deep.
8. Spray the loaf thoroughly, all over, with water, from a clean plant spray. This will help to form the crunchy crust.
9. Bake at 200 degrees C for 25 minutes, spraying the crust twice more in the first 10 minutes of cooking.
The bread is cooked when it is well browned and comes off the tray easily. It will sound hollow when you knock on its bottom.
Leave the bread to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before cutting.
There are more great bread recipes on my site, where I help people bake delicious bread in the easiest possible way.
Rachel, from Freshly Baked.