KA Italian Bread 101 “Review” (Picture Heavy)

The national recipes for ‘French’ and ‘Italian’ breads are limited in terms of what CAN and CAN’T be used in them in order to be able to legally use those terms. I decided to make a loaf of “Italian” bread using the recipe posted on the King Arthur website.

ETA: The recipe uses four ingredients for the bread: flour, water, salt and yeast.

I followed the recipe and instructions exactly, only adjusting the timing of the steps based on the action of my yeast, as I didn’t want to over proof the dough while maximizing oven spring.

Pillowy crumb … the slice was taken from one end of the braid but the height wasn’t much greater further in from the end.

The ‘starter’ was mixed up, covered with plastic food wrap and a towel and allowed to ferment for 12 hrs at room temperature (77 deg F). The next morning, the rest of the ingredients were added, the dough was kneaded by hand (10 min, 5 min rest, additional 5 min) and let rise for 45 minutes, covered, in an oiled bowl. Then the dough was deflated, reshaped into a ball and allowed to rest/rise for an additional 25 minutes.

   
   

The risen dough was divided into three equal portions, shaped into 18″ long ropes, braided and allowed to rise, covered, on parchment paper until it was ‘very puffy’. Then it was brushed with a wash of egg white and water and sprinkled with about 2 tbsp of white sesame seeds.

   

My straight braid developed a distinctive ‘curve’ during proofing … perhaps due to uneven braiding or tension.

 

Baked for 30 minutes at 425 deg Fahrenheit.

Conclusion: Nice crunchy crust. Taste was very good even though I was afraid that it would be a bit too salty and was tempted to reduce the salt, from 1 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp. Watch your dough for the timing of the proofing times.

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8 thoughts on “KA Italian Bread 101 “Review” (Picture Heavy)

  1. Sounds great, but it looks like a challah, although having read the ingredients, I am sure it doesn’t taste like one. I don’t remember seeing, much less eating, braided bread in Italy, but perhaps I’d missed it, as I am not much of a bread eater, anyway.

    1. It’s just flour, water, yeast and salt unlike the challah. Nothing else. Egg white glaze and sesame seed top. The braid shaping was what they used on the KA site that I got the recipe from. I would prefer (and will more likely make) a batard/torpedo in future with the traditional 3 or 4 slashes. I was pleasantly surprised by the texture of the crumb and the taste of the very simple recipe.

      1. Yes, I saw the difference. Incidentally, there are water challahs, i.e. eggless. Batard shape and size is what I am used to, and with slashes, of course. The texture looks great on photo.

      2. I just wanted to reiterate it for anyone who doesn’t follow the link to the recipe but just reads the comment. Especially since I noticed that I didn’t mention that in the post. I may edit that later.

        I was really tempted to make that change in shape … since that’s the kind of Italian bread I grew up eating … but I had committed to making the recipe exactly as the site described so I stayed strong. 🙂

        I couldn’t wait til tomorrow to cut into the loaf so as soon as it was cool enough (1 1/2 hrs felt like an eternity) I cut 4 slices and ate all 4 of them, three plain so I could judge the taste. I spread ONE of the slices with some margarine since my butter is too hard to spread.

  2. That’s what I love about Italian breads and pizza doughs, the strict rules! I have been experimenting with a Napolitana pizza dough and I think I may have gotten it right, finally. This one uses fresh yeast (yes, it was problematic to find). Tonight we bake the pizza on the new Big Green Egg, hopefully, it gets hot enough!
    Your bread looks wonderful, I love breads that are made with a starter or sponge. I am still making the sweet potato buns that you posted, I am on my 3rd batch. JT loves them with butter but I save my share for home made burgers.

    1. Bread (doughs) have so many variations … and the ingredients are inexpensive to play with … that I rarely make the same thing twice in a row barring a few standards that I can make in my sleep. There’s an Italian semolina based bread (lunetta) that I want to make next. Probably because it’s shaped into an “S” and covered with sesame seeds … and I’m shallow that way. (It’s all about the pretty picture.) 🙂

      I wish I had some sweet potatoes in the house … the sweet potato buns were delicious and burgers sound great … but I just bought some lean ground beef and now I have a hankering for a aloo keema curry (potato and ground beef) . I haven’t made Indian food in ages.

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