As I mentioned yesterday, I made a huge pan of lasagna for inauguration day. Since we’re going to be eating a lot of lasagna leftovers this week, I wanted to make fresh bread to add a little something to dinner. I have so many bread recipes to choose from, but I decided to go with one for italian bread from my Weight Watchers cookbook since I haven’t used it in a while. The only problem I had with this recipe is that I wasn’t exactly sure how to fold the dough to form the loaf. I didn’t think the instructions were terribly clear. I did the best I could and I don’t think it mattered too much in the end. The bread was delicious! It has a nice crisp outer crust but the inside is soft and just wonderful.

Italian Bread
from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

1 envelope active dry yeast (I used 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast instead)
3/4 cup lukewarm (105-115 F) water
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cornmeal

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over 1/4 cup of the water. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (Note: this step isn’t necessary if you use instant yeast. You can just throw the yeast in with the flour and salt in that case.)

In a food processor, combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, and salt. With the machine running, scrape the yeast mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of water through the feed tube until the dough just forms a ball. (I poured the entire 3/4 cup of water through the feed tube since I didn’t need to proof the instant yeast.) Knead the dough by pulsing until it is smooth and no longer sticky, about 30 times.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray; place the dough in the bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in volume, 40-50 minutes.

Punch down the dough; lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour. Turn out the dough; form into a 12 x 16 rectangle. Fold into thirds, lengthwise, and pinch the seams to seal, forming into a 12-inch tapered oval loaf.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray; sprinkle the cornmeal in a 12-inch strip down the center. Place the loaf on the baking sheet; cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.

Dust the loaf with about 1 teaspoon flour; with a sharp knife cut 2-3 slashes into the top. Place in the upper third of a cold oven; set the oven to 400 F. Bake about 20 minutes; reduce the oven temperature to 350 F and bake for 25-30 minutes longer, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from the baking sheet and cool completely on a rack.