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Italian Bread


2 Cups water
2 packages dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
5 - 6 Cups bread flour
Oil
Cornmeal

In hot water, approximately 120 degrees, dissolve salt sugar and yeast. Beat in 2 Cups of the flour with an electric mixer until the gluten forms. It will look stringy and somewhat snotty. Change to the bread hooks and stir in the balance of the flour until the ball forms. Remove from mixer and knead. Use 1 teaspoon of oil, oil a bowl and the dough, cover with wet tea towel or plastic wrap, set in a warm place and let double in bulk. Punch down, divide into two portions, and knead each of the portions 15 strokes. Place in 2 oiled bowls, cover and let rise. Punch down the dough and roll on lightly floured surface to a rectangle about 9 x 12. Roll long side in toward center, pushing out the air as you go and pinching it. Pinch the seam firmly, karate chop the ends and turn them under. Place the loaf on a cookie sheet sprinkled with corn meal, seam side down, lightly oil the top, cover with plastic wrap, let rise until double in bulk. If you gently poke your finger into the side of the loaf, and the dent stays, its ready. Shape both loaves. Take 1 egg white with a teaspoon of water, and beat until lightly frothy. Brush each loaf with egg white mixture, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, cut 3-4 diagonal gashed, inch deep in each loaf, and bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.


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