Italian Bread, Princess Bride, & Snuggles

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Finally, a weekend when I finally felt I didn’t need to run around and around like a decapitated chicken. I actually had time to do some real pen-and-paper writing, sleep in until 9, AND go to the temple with Matt and our dear friends The Roses. Not to mention get a little fancy with my baking, watch The Princess Bride, and get some good cuddling time with the hubby.

It’s been a great weekend.

I won’t lie, it was a little hard to come into work this morning. However, that pain was lessened slightly by the fact that I get Thursday and Friday off this week. Can I get a WAHOO from the crowd?

And, because this bread recipe was requested the last time I posted about it, I’ve decided to oblige 🙂

Italian Bread (from The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner)

3 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons (2 packets) active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar, divided
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
7 to 9 cupe all-purpose flour, divided

Butter
1 egg white
Sesame seeds (optional)

1. In a small bowl, combine the water, yeast, and 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar. Stir just until the yeast is dissolved. Cover with a small plate or paper towel and let stand until the mixture is bubbly or foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
2. In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, mix the salt, the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, butter, the yeast mixture, and 3 1/2 cups of the flour. Keep adding flour, 1/2 cup at a time, up to 3 1/2 cups, for a total of 7 cups. The dough should be firm and completely away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is still sticky, add more flour 1/4 cup at a time, up to the remaining two cups.
3. Knead by hand on a lightly floured surface or with the dough  hook on low to medium speed, about 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl, and turn it once to coat. Cover with a dish towel and let the dough rise in a warm place away from drafts, until doubled in bulk (20-40 minutes). Grease a baking sheet or sheet pan, and set aside.
4. Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, form each half into a thick baguette shape, about 10 inches long. Place the loaves on the prepared pan. With a sharp knife, make three angled 1/2″ deep slashes on the top of each loaf. Beat the egg white with a fork, and brush it over the loaves. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, if desired. Let loaves rise, uncovered, until doubled in bulk, 20-40 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. When the dough has doubled, bake for 30 minutes. For a crispier crust, spray water in the oven with a spray bottle before baking and again a few times during baking.
6. Turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack. Serve the bread hot if desired, or allow to cool. Pass olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a dish, as an alternative to butter.

Yield: 2 giant loaves