I found this recipe and added some tweaks after cooking it a few times. This is such an easy bread to make without needing a bread machine. This has a wonderful herb flavor with a crispy outer crust and soft moist center. I hope you enjoy this also 🙂
This recipe will make 2 loaves of bread
- 3 Cups of Lukewarm Warm Water (100* is perfect-if the water is to hot it will kill the yeast)
- 1 tsp of White Sugar
- 1 TBSP of Active Dry Yeast
- 1 TBSP of Salt
- 7 Cups of All Purpose Flour
- 1 TBSP of Italian Seasoning
- 1/4 Cup of Italian Herb Dipping Oil
- 1/2 Cup of Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/4 Cup of Cornmeal (you will use this to coat the bottom of the baking sheet)
- You will also need an oven safe bowl that can hold about 2 cups of water (this will go into the oven while the bread bakes so that moisture is released keeping your bread moist while baking)
- In a large bowl, (large enough to mix all the ingredients together), add your lukewarm water, yeast and sugar, stirring to mix them all together, let set for 10 minutes to let proof. You should have a good foamy top after ten minutes, if you don’t discard and try again because it means your yeast is dead.
- Add 4 cups of your flour to the yeast mixture and mix well by hand, I use a fork. Cover and let set for 15 minutes.
- Now you can add your salt to the mixture being sure to mix in well and evenly.
- Add the rest of your flour 1 cup at a time, the first cup can be mixed in with a fork. By the second cup you will need to use your hands kneading the flour into the dough. With the last cup of flour only add enough at a time so that the dough isn’t sticky.
- The dough should not be sticking to your hands, so continue kneading in the flour until it’s not sticking to your fingers.
- Continue kneading the dough until it is very smooth, try not to over knead though because this can cause the bread to have a tougher texture.
- Coat the dough with about 1-2 TBSP of your Italian dipping oil, turning to coat all sides and leave it in the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a towel and put into your oven with the light on to rise. The oven light keeps the temperature perfect for the dough to rise. Let the dough rise until double in size, about 30-45 minutes.
- After the dough is double in size, remove from the oven and punch down so that it’s flat again but don’t knead it. Recover and place back into the oven for about 30 minutes or until double in size again.
- Coat your cookie sheets with a very thin layer of cornmeal while waiting for the bread to finish rising. I use cookie stones because they give a perfect crust every time.
- Remove the bowl when your dough is doubled in size and punch down one last time.
- Next, separate the flattened dough in half, working with one half at a time, shape into a long loaf of bread, (just like italian bread looks), place onto your cookie sheet, seem side down. Try not to overwork the dough, the less it’s handled the better the bread! Do the same with your second loaf.
- Gently rub the tops of the bread dough with the remaining Italian dipping oil. Sprinkle the tops with the freshly grated parmesan.
- Put the bread loaves back into the oven with the light still on and let rise about 40 minutes, or until size doubles.
- Remove and preheat your oven to 450* Add your bowl of hot water on the lowest oven rack while the oven is preheating.
- Make 3-4 slits into the bread, about 1/4 inches deep and put them into the oven on the middle oven rack when the oven has completed preheating.
- Cook for about 30-40 minutes, or until the bread is nicely browned and sounds hollow when you lightly tap it.
- Remove from the oven, let cool for about 10 minutes and enjoy 🙂