Sunday, November 22, 2009

Italian Bread

Few weeks back, it was a cold rainy day when we visited this nice, cozy Italian restaurant in downtown Palo Alto (Bay Area). We had given up on a hike in the hills earlier because of the extreme cold weather. We searched for Italian restaurants around on the GPS and found one called Bella Luna and decided to try out this restaurant. Both of us were cold and hungry, and the soft, warm and sweet smelling bread they served looked like heaven. They serve this comforting bread with garlic and olive oil dip. It was only 6 pm, so we had our dinner leisurely. That's when I decided I should try baking Italian bread at home. Italian bread is such a versatile dish- it can be made into bruschetta, served with soup or any other entree. Or it can be served in a simpler way, like with just some cracked pepper, salt and olive oil. I tried making this bread with both white flour and also using whole wheat flour or roti atta. Both the version turned out to be very tasty. The best part is that it doesn't take much time to make this bread. The dough can be made prior and stored in the freezer and can be baked whenever needed. The online recipe called for water, but I used milk to knead the dough. I am so excited with the success of this recipe that I am planning to bake different breads like olive bread, garlic, jalapeno bread and spice bread with this basic dough.

2-2 1/2 cups flour. All purpose flour or maida can be used. I used 50% whole wheat flour and 50% all purpose flour
1 packet rapid rise yeast
3 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
warm milk or water

Combine yeast, salt and flour and mix well. Add olive oil and warm milk and made a smooth dough. Add rest of the flour and knead for 8-10 minutes till a smooth dough is obtained. Cover with a cloth towel and keep aside for 15 minutes or till the dough doubles in size. Knead again for 4-5 minutes. Grease the bread pan with olive oil and pat the bread dough inside the pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or till light brown on the bottom at 400 degrees. Glaze the top with olive oil as soon as the bread is removed from the oven.

Garlic-Olive Oil dip:


1/4 cup olive oil
5-6 garlic cloves very finely chopped
sea salt

Mix all the ingredients together and leave aside for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavor of garlic to infuse into the olive oil. Serve with warm Italian bread.