Friday, October 21, 2005

Sliced Garlic-Peppercorn Italian Bread

We had this bread in Colorado a few months ago and it was outstanding. It's wonderful toasted as a garlic bread without any additional slatherings - SAVE - a spritz of quality olive oil after it has been sliced and toasted.

2 - packages fast-rising yeast (SAF quick Rise works well here)
1 - teaspoon sugar
2-1/2 - cups tepid water (110 degrees)
6-1/2 - cups good-quality unbleached bread flour (**)
1 - teaspoon salt
1 - teaspoon water
3- Garlic buds thinly sliced lengthwise
1 1/2 tsp freshly crushed peppercorns
1/2 - cup cornmeal


I mistakingly used AP flour, and I'm glad I did!! This was the chewiest Italian bread I have ever eaten. It was perfect - Your choice!!)

In a large mixer bowl, dissolve sugar into 1 cup of tepid (105-degree) water. Stir in yeast. Let stand until it is nice and frothy.

Add the four cups of flour. Beat mixture 10 minutes. The dough should pull away from sides of the mixing bowl.

Add salt and remaining 1-1/2 cup water. Then add the additional 2-1/2 cups of flour. Knead mixture with the dough hook of an electric mixture for five minutes. If kneading by hand, knead dough for 15 minutes. Add more water if dough becomes dry.

Add garlic and crushed peppercorns, and knead them into the dough by hand.

Grease large bowl. Put in the dough to bowl and cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough raise 1-1/2 hours or until double in size. In the middle of the dough, punch down and form the dough into 2 or 3 loaves. Clean a surface and spread some flour. Place loaves on floured surface and cover with towel. Let loaves rise to double in size - about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450° F.

In the oven, you can add a pizza stone or bread bricks. Also, place a pan of hot water on bottom oven shelf. This gives it a nice crust.

After loaves have doubled, spread cornmeal or semolina flour on pizza stone or bread bricks. Or, you can use a greased cookie sheet thaat has been floured. Slide in loaves and bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. The loaves sound hollow when you tap a loaf. Cool the bread on metal rack.