Rustic Italian Bread

Supper club's theme this month was Italian and since I wasn't feeling like making a real dish, I went with rustic Italian bread. An excellent choice to compliment everyone else's stellar dishes! Plus this recipe was surprisingly easy, a little time intense, but easy nonetheless. This recipe is from the back of the Pillsbury BEST Bread Flour package.

water (1 cup, warmed)
olive oil (2 tbsp)
bread flour (3 cups)
sugar (2 tsp)
salt (1/2 tsp)
active dry yeast (1 (1/4 oz.) package)
egg white (1 large, beaten)

Combine flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl and mix well. Add warm water and oil and mix well. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.

Place dough in lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place for 35 minutes.

Sprinkle ungreased cookie sheet with cornmeal. Knead dough on cookie sheet and cover it with a bowl and let sit on counter for 15 minutes. Then, shape dough into baguette shaped load. Place dough on cornmeal-coated cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until it has doubled in size, about 35 minutes.

Heat oven to 375. Make 1 deep lengthwise slash in top of load. Brush loaf with egg white.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes.

Tip: I made this the night before and cooked for 15 minutes and quickly spread some butter on top and wrapped it in aluminum foil (Actually my friend Donna did this and gave me the tip - thanks friend!) This allows the bread to stay soft overnight. The next day, I sliced it open and put a few butter slices, a mix of Italian cheeses and seasonings and baked for another 10 minutes. A little broiler action to make the cheese a little brown completed the process. (Of course I forgot to take a picture of this part, but believe me when I say it was all gone!)

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