Advice and recipes for baking bread

Bread and pizza are two very important foods in the Italian culinary tradition. Here is some advice and a few recipes to cook the best bread at home.

When baking bread you can use a pan covered with tin foil.  Even if you do not use a classic pizza oven, you may use a tray, which must be shallow  and made of heavy material; iron and copper trays are both very good. To prevent pizzas and calzones from having a soggy bottom and not fully cooked, it is best to put some aluminum paper between the tray and the bottom of the dough: this material enhances the effect of the heat and allows pizzas and calzones to be cooked uniformly.

To make a good bread, you do not always need every single piece of pastry equipment. For example, to test the baking level of the bread, you just have to poke a wooden skewer in the center of the dough: if the dough is well-cooked, it should come out dry.

Similarly, to test the baking level of calzones poke a wooden skewer in the center, but keep in mind that it will never come out perfectly dry because the components of the filling (ricotta, tomatoes, mozzarella) maintain a certain amount of moisture even when completely cooked.  Do not extend the period of cooking beyond due time, otherwise the crust of the bread becomes too hard.

The temperature of the environment in which the dough is mixed may affect the leavening: if the kitchen is cold, it does not rise enough. A trick to avoid this is to heat the oven to 200° and shut it down after 15-20 minutes of heating, introduce the bowl with the dough and then keep the oven closed.

A very easy and certainly very tasty recipe to cook is white bread.

You have to crumble the yeast in a bowl and dissolve it with a little warm milk, then add 50 grams of flour, malt (or honey) and sugar. Now add the remaining flour, salt, milk, and pieces of butter previously softened to room temperature; you need to mix all ingredients very well and then transfer the dough to the work surface, working it for about 10 minutes until it becomes hard, elastic and no longer sticky.

Now form a ball and, after having greased it with oil, put it again in the bowl and cover it with a moistened cloth.  It has to leaven in a warm place with no open air for about two hours, this will make it double in volume.

After this time, work the dough again for a few minutes, give it a cylindrical shape and move it into the buttered tray. Brush the surface with the egg yolk and let it rise again for another hour.

Now bake it at 180 degrees for about 35 minutes, then take it out of the mold and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, then serve it after it cools.

For those particularly attentive to their health, we are happy to note that some weeks ago major bread producers representing baking artisans, and the Italian industries association, Industrial Alimentary Products, representing industrial bakers, signed an agreement with the Deputy Minister for Health, Ferruccio Fazia, intended to reduce the salt content in bread in order to combat hypertension.