My son was home sick from school today. Pour little guy. His only request... "Will you make me that yummy bread that I like to eat as French toast?" How could I resist.
This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, "The Silver Palate Cookbook." While baking homemade bread is rather time consuming, it is well worth the effort. This loaf is dense and hardy. Perfect for dipping in spaghetti sauce, alongside a bowl of soup, made into a sandwich or turned into French toast.
2 c. lukewarm water (105-115 degrees F.)1 pkg. active dry yeast3 c. semolina flour
1 Tbs. salt
2-3 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. olive oil
3-4 Tbs. cornmeal
1 Tbs. water
Pour the water into a mixing bowl, stir in the yeast, and let stand for 10 minutes. Add the semolina flour and salt and stir well. Add 2 c. of the flour and stir to make a sticky dough.
Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and allow to rest for a few minutes. Begin kneading the dough, sprinkling it with the remaining cup of flour. After about 10 minutes, the dough will be smooth and elastic and will have absorbed more or less of the last cup of flour.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl. Pour the olive oil over the dough and turn it several times to coat. Cover the bowl with a towel and set aside until the dough has tripled in bulk.
Punch down the dough, knead it for a few minutes, and then return it to the bowl. Cover and let it raise again until doubled.
Punch down the dough again and cut it in half. Shape each piece into a long thin loaf about 24 inches long. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal and arrange the loaves on the sheet. Cover and let raise for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Beat together the egg and 1 Tbs. water. When the loaves have risen, brush them well with this egg wash. Slash the loaves decoratively on top with a sharp knife, making diagonal cuts.
Slide the baking sheet into the oven and reduce the heat to 375 degrees F. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the loaves are browned and sound hollow when the bottoms are thumped. Cool on a rack.