When we moved into our house our neighbors brought us a warm loaf of bread wrapped in natural brown parchment paper and tied up with raffia. It was such a sweet gesture and what could be better than a piece of warm bread with butter smeared on top when your exhausted from moving, followed up with a big old glass of wine.
After tasting her delicious warm bread, I started playing around my mom’s bread machine. I’ve come up with this recipe, which makes a nice rustic loaf with a hard crust.
Here is what you need:
1 cup lukewarm water
1-1/2 teaspoons shortening or butter
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3+ cups bread flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
Glaze: 1 egg white + 1 teaspoon water whisked together well.
Here is what you do:
Place all ingredients in bread machine pan in order listed. Start dough cycle. After 5-10 minutes, lift the lid and check dough. If dough is too sticky (levels out), add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. If dough is too dry, add water a teaspoon at a time. Dough should be a loose ball that sticks to the sides, then pulls away.
When dough cycle is complete, turn dough out onto lightly floured board. Roll into oval shape slightly longer than you want your final loaf to be. Starting from long side, roll into a cylinder shape. Pinch seam together. Turn over so seam is hidden. Pinch ends together and turn under making a small rounded shape on each end. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in warm place.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Make glaze and brush over loaf. Using a sharp knife, (I use a serrated knife) or a single edge razor blade, cut diagonal slashes about 2 inches apart and ½ inch deep across the top of loaf.
Bake loaf for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 5-10 minutes until golden brown. Remove to cooling rack or slice and eat immediately.