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Italian Bread

2 pkgs active dry yeat
2 1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon salt
7 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
yellow cornmeal
1 slightly-beaten egg white

In large mixing bowl, soften active dry yeast in warm water. Stir
in 2 C. of the flour, beat well. Add salt. Then stir in about
4 1/2 C. of the remaining flour. Dough should be stiffer than for
ordinary bread.

Turn out on lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 10
minutes. Knead for 15 to 25 minutes, or until very elastic, kneading
in remaining 3/4 to 1 1/4 C. flour. Place dough in lightly greased
bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover and let rise in warm
place until double (about 1 1/2 hours). Punch down and let rise
again until double (about 1 hour). Turn out on lightly floured
surface. Divide in half and form each part in ball. Cover and
let rest for 10 minutes.

Shape and place on baking sheets sprinkled with corn meal. Add 1
T. water to egg white, brush over top and sides of loaves. Cover
with damp cloth, but don't let it touch the dough. (Make a tent
with tall glasses.) Let rise in warm place until double (1 to 1
1/2 hours). When ready to bake, place large shallow pan on lower
rack of oven, fill with boiling water (to make the crust crisp).

Large loaves: Bake in 375 deg. F. oven until light brown, about
20 minutes, brush again with egg white mixture. Bake about 20
minutes longer or until nicely browned and done. Cool.

For large loaves, roll each half of dough in 15 x 12 inch rectangle,
1/4 inch thick. Beginning at long side, roll up tightly, sealing
well as you roll. Taper ends. Place each loaf diagonally, seam
side down, on prepared baking sheet. With sharp knife, make diagonal
cuts 2 1/2 inches apart, about 1/8 to 1/4" deep. Follow recipe to
brush, rise and bake.

These can be formed into plump loaves (2 loaves), round loaves (2
loaves), individual loaves (8 loaves) or hard rolls (12 rolls).


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