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Muffaletta Bread

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Muffuletta Bread

* 1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 1(1/4 ounce) package instant-rise dry yeast (about 1 tablespoon)
* About 3 cups bread flour
* 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
* 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
* Sesame seeds


METHOD

In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, combine water and sugar. Stir in yeast. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. In food processor fitted with steel blade, combine 3 cups flour, salt, and shortening. Add yeast mixture. Process until dough forms a ball, about 5 seconds. Stop machine; check consistency of dough. It should be smooth and satiny. If dough is too dry, add more warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time, processing just until blended. If cough is too sticky, add more flour, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, processing just until blended. Process 20 seconds to knead.

Lightly oil a large bowl, swirling to coat bottom and sides. Place dough in oiled bowl; turn to coat all sides. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.. Lightly grease a baking sheet. When dough has doubled in bulk, punch down dough; turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Form dough into 2 round loaves about 10 inches in diameter; place on greased baking sheet. Sprinkle top of loaves with sesame seeds; press seed gently into surface of loaves. Cover very loosely with plastic wrap; let rise until almost doubled in bulk, 1 hour. Place rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove plastic wrap. Bake loaves in center of preheated oven 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees; bake 25 minutes. A loaf is done when it sounds hollow when tapped on bottom. Cool completely on a rack before slicing. Makes 2 loaves.

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