A new one from The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking. I was looking for a good italian bread for this coming week since I have a lot of soups on the menu and I wanted one that didn't require a 24-hour slow rise in the fridge.
This one was a workout to knead! The dough ends up being very dry but the resulting loaves were unbelievably tender.
Brother Bandera's Italian Bread
2 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp honey
2 cups hot water
4 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp olive oil
8 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 1/2 cup whole wheat and 6 1/2 cups all-purpose)
Combine the yeast, honey, water and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir until the yeast and salt are dissolved. Stir in 1/4 cup of oil. Beat 10 minutes, gradually adding in about 6 cups of flour until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn out on a lightly floured surface. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to prevent stickiness.
Lightly grease a large bowl with the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk - about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down the dough. Turn out again and knead gently for 2 minutes. Divide into 3 balls and flatten each ball with a rolling pin into a rectangle approximately 10 x 12 inches. Roll each rectangle into a torpedo shape. Start from the longer side of the rectangle and fold in approximately 1/3 of the dough, pinching along the seam to seal and remove any air spaces. Fold the remaining 1/3 piece of dough over, pinching along the seam again, rolling it back and forth a little to be certain. Fold the ends under towards the seam side and pinch closed.
Grease two baking sheets. Place the loaves on the baking sheets, seams and tuck sides down. Make three 1-inch-deep diagonal slashes evenly spaced along the loaf. Mist with water until they are thoroughly damp. Cover with a lightly damp tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Mist the bread again. Place in a cold oven set at 375º. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. During the baking, spray the loaves a couple more times - at the 10-minute mark and the 15 -minute mark. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.