Intro: Italian Bread
This is a great recipe for a dense, hard crust, and very delicious to eat.
1 5 lb bag of flour
1 3 pack of active dry yeast
5 cups of milk
1 stick of butter
a pinch of salt
Step 1: Prepare Your Milk
Heat the milk in a sauce pan, and add the stick of butter. Stir until the butter is completely melted into milk, turn off the heat and allow to cool. It is very important the milk is room temperature before moving on to the next step. Ice can be added to aid in the cooling process, but be careful not to chill beyond room temp.
Step 2: Prepare for Mixing
Add the entire 5 lb bag of flour into a large mixing bowl and create a crater in the center of the flour. Pour the milk mix into the center of the flour. Verify that the mix is no longer hot from the cooking. (if the milk is too hot it will kill the yeast). Cut each of the 3 packets open in the yeast pack and pour into the mix of milk/butter.
Step 3: Mixing the Dough
Spoon the yeast to mix it in, then using your hands break up any clumps to distribute the yeast throughout the milk. Allow the mixture to set for 10-15 minutes to allow the yeast to activate. Using your hands pull the flour edges down into the milk, and begin to mix the dough. Work the dough with your hands to mix all dry flour into liquid mix. The dough should start to become consistent in form. If the dough is still too sticky(sticking to your hands) after about five minutes of mixing then add flour until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. If the dough becomes flaky or doesn't not hold together you added to much. In this case add water until you the mix is evenly mixed and the dough does not stick to your hands. Kneed the dough for up to ten minutes or until the dough is consistently mixed. Take the dough ball out of the bowl, and grease the edges of the pan to prevent sticking during the rising. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover. let it rest/rise for 45 minutes.
Step 4: Punch the Dough Down
After 45 minutes has passed the dough should have risen to twice its size. Punch down the dough and allow it to rest. After resting cut the dough into chunks that will fill a loaf pan half way. Cover the pans and allow the dough to rise in the loaf pan for 30-45 minutes. It will be complete when you see the bump coming through the covering cloth.
Step 5: Bake the Bread
Put the bread pans in the middle rack of a pre-heated oven set to 350 degrees F. Bake for 10 - 20 minutes. Bake time will very based on elevation. Bread will be done when crust has a golden brown look on top. Pull out of oven allow to cool and enjoy. Eat or freeze the bread with in 1 week after cooking as there are no preservatives in the bread to prevent molding.