Homemade bread compliments baked ziti, chicken divan

Published 12:38 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This week’s food story is about putting dinner on the table in a hurry.

Not just any kind of dinner but one that you took the time to make. Believe me I know how hard that can be. Several days a week my daughter and I leave the house at 7:20 a.m. and get home around 8 p.m. and when I don’t plan well we end up eating sandwiches or pick up fast food. When I do plan ahead there is something either ready to go in the oven or at least easily put together.

Nothing will go with the dishes in the article like fresh bread but most people panic when they see a recipe for bread. First of all there is the time involved, I mean who has time to wait an hour for bread to rise? Now, I know that every store in this town has bread that you can pick up on your way home but there isn’t anything like homemade bread and with a little planning you can have fresh, hot homemade bread to go with the baked ziti or chicken divan in the article.

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Here is a recipe that I have had for years for fairly quick Italian bread. And you can make the dough ahead and leave it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. I know making bread can be scary but I promise with practice you can turn this out in no time.

Italian Bread

4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 packages of yeast

1 tablespoon margarine

1 3/4 cup very warm (not hot) water

Corn meal

Olive oil

1 egg white

1 tablespoon of cold water

In the work bowl of a food processor, mix 1 1 / 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and the packages of yeast. Add the margarine and mix slightly.

Gradually add the water to the dry ingredients and process about 30 seconds. Add 3/4 cup flour and process for 30 seconds. Add enough flour to make a stiff dough an pulse until dough is mixed. Take it out of the bowl and knead slightly smooth and elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and then a towel. Let it rest for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a 15 by 10 rectangle. Beginning at the wide side, roll up tightly and pinch seams to seal.

Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and sprinkle with corn meal. Place the dough on the baking sheet, brush with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.

When you are ready to bake, remove from the refrigerator, uncover carefully and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Make 3 to 4 diagonal cuts on top of each loaf with a sharp knife.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with the eggwhite mixed with cold water. Return to oven, bake 5 to minutes longer or until brown.

Christina Hall can be reached by e-mail at christina.hallnatchezdemocrat.com.