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Italian Bread
Makes 1 Large or 2 Small Loaves

1 1/8 cups warm water (110-F degrees)
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 Tbs brown sugar
3 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
2 eggs
1 Tbs water
cornmeal
sesame seeds

In a small mixing bowl, combine warm water, yeast, and brown sugar,
and let proof for 3 to 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour and salt. Add olive
oil, 1 egg, and yeast mixture, and blend until a silky dough is
formed.

Form 1 large loaf, or divide dough into 2 parts and form into long
loaves. Sprinkle cornmeal on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Place loaves on the baking sheet, seam sides down. Brush tops of
the loaves with a tablespoon of water mixed with the remaining egg.
Let rise until doubled, about 50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375-F degrees. Brush loaf with remaining egg wash.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Make 4 cuts about 1/4 inch deep across
top of loaf. Place a pan of hot water in bottom of oven. Bake
the bread for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven
and cool on a wire rack. After cooling, store in airtight container
to preserve. May freeze for up to 3 months.

Tip: To serve a crustier bread, five minutes before dinner is
served, reheat the baked bread in the same temperature oven for 5
minutes. You'll be pleasantly surprised how the extra crunch from
reheating lends to the authenticity of the Italian bread.

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