Every time I take a bite of freshly baked bread, I wonder why I don't bake it more often. There is just nothing like it. It has to be one of the most satisfying - in more than one way - processes from start to finish.
This Italian bread is similar in many ways to the French bread I made not too long ago, but there is one very big, very noticeable difference: the crust. The French bread crust is, well, crusty! The Italian bread has a crust that is much softer and definitely easier for little people to chew.
Despite major problems which I will describe in a second, this bread was fabulous. To bake this bread - and many others, including the French bread - you set an empty pan on the floor of your oven while you preheat it. Then, when you place your dough on the baking sheet - also in the oven during the preheat - you pour water into the empty pan, thereby creating steam. It is this steam that creates the more defined crust. Well, when I poured my water in, all of the steam blew my pilot light out! I kept checking my bread, and wondering why it wasn't baking more quickly, then, after about 15 minutes, my oven had cooled down noticeably and I realized the problem. I was afraid that my bread would be ruined, but it came out of the oven looking like nothing at all had gone awry! I was so proud.
I need work on my slashing. The French Bread was slashed too shallow, this is too deep. Ah well. The bread is delicious, regardless. I made 4 torpedo rolls, and one loaf. The recipe calls for water as the liquid in the loaves and milk in the rolls, but since I did both I went with milk.
In addition to the tender, yet chewy crust, the Italian bread has a very soft interior with a tight crumb and a slightly sweet flavor. So far, we've used the bread for toast and sandwiches. I'm planning on French toast in the morning.
The recipe for this Italian Bread can be found in The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.
I know I promised to post the SMS chocolate piecrust today, but I didn't really like it, so I'm going to skip posting about it.