Italian twist bread
This recipe is in the format professional bakers use, using ounces and pounds. Flour absorbs water from the atmosphere. A cup of sifted all-purpose flour weighs 4 ounces, more or less, and will weigh more on a humid day.
Makes 2 pounds, 12 ounces
16 ounces water
1/2 ounce active dry yeast (2 packets)
28 ounces bread flour
1/2 ounce salt
1/4 teaspoon malt syrup*
Optional toppings: sesame seed, poppy seed, black pepper, sea salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, soften the yeast in the water. Let the mixture sit one
minute before proceeding.
Combine the remaining ingredients in the mixing bowl, taking care not to add
the salt last. Add the softened yeast.
Using a dough hook, mix to a smooth, developed dough. The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl and have well-developed gluten. Remove the dough from the mixer and knead the dough so that it forms a solid ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and set aside in a warm place to let the dough double. This might take as long as an hour.
Remove the dough from the oiled bowl and divide it into three equal
portions. Handle gently to make the next steps easier.
Work with one piece of dough at a time and roll the dough into a cylinder
about 30 inches long. The diameter is not as important as the length. Repeat
the process with the remaining pieces of dough.
Braid the strands of dough using a standard three-braid procedure (videos
can be found online).
Place braided dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly cover
with plastic. Allow to rise until the bread becomes “puffy.” Be careful, as
you can overproof the bread at this stage and the results will be
Liberally brush the surface with water. If using toppings such as sesame
seeds, add at this time.
Bake until the loaf tests done. It should make a hollow sound when thumped
or record an internal temperature of 200 degrees.
*Malt syrup is a specialty product that usually can be found in health food