I think Mom used to bake at least four of these tender loaves at once, and they never lasted long. She served the bread with every Italian meal. I love it toasted, too. —Linda Harrington, Windham, New Hampshire
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 2 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, salt and 3 cups flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in remaining flour to form a soft dough.
- Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch dough down. Turn onto a floured surface; divide in half. Shape each portion into a loaf. Place each loaf seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°. With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across top of each loaf. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 loaves (12 slices each).
Originally published as Mom's Italian Bread in Taste of Home December/January 2010, p73
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