Italian bread, using a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer:
- 1 1/2 cups warm (105F) water
- 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl and mix in a Kitchen Aid mixer, with a dough hook, on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes until a stiff, elastic batter is formed. Divide the starter into two equal pieces. Wrap one piece in oiled plastic wrap and freeze for later use. Place the remaining starter into an oiled glass bowl, cover, and allow to rise until triple in volume. This should take about 8 hours at room temperature or at least 14 hours in the refrigerator.
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm (105F) water
- 1 cup cool water
- Starter, at room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups bread (preferred) or all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 Tbs kosher salt
Combine the warm water and yeast in a large bowl and stir with a fork to dissolve the yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add the cool water and starter to the yeast mixture and mix by hand for about 2 minutes, breaking up the starter, until the starter is completely dissolved. Pour this mixture into the Kitchen Aid bowl, and, using a dough hook at low speed, add the flour and salt, scraping the sides of the bowl, until the dough gathers into a mass. The dough should be wet and sticky with long strands of dough hanging from the hook. Increase mixer speed to medium low and allow to knead for about 5 minutes, until it pulls completely away from the sides of the bowl and wraps itself around the dough hook.
Move the dough to a work surface lightly dusted with flour and shape the dough into a ball. Allow the dough to rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Knead the dough by hand for 3 to 5 minutes, until it is stretchy and smooth yet still slightly sticky. Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a lightly oiled glass bowl, cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap, and let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size.
Place the dough onto a well-floured work surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and shape into baguettes for bread, or into balls smaller than a tennis ball for rolls. Place the loaves or rolls on a heavily floured surface leaving plenty of space in between. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour.
Preheat your oven and a baking stone if you have one, to 475F. If you have a baking stone, place the loaves or rolls directly on the baking stone. Otherwise, sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal, place the loaves or rolls on the baking sheet, allowing enough room for expansion, and place the baking sheet in the pre-heated oven. Using a spray bottle of warm water, quickly mist the oven, not the bread, 8 to 10 times, then quickly shut the oven door. Mist again after 1 minute, then again 1 minute later. Bake for about 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 450F, mist one more time, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer for rolls, or 10 to 15 minutes for loaves, until the crust is well browned (if the crust is not completely browned, it will soften when cooled) and they sound hollow when tapped. Transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool for 15 minutes.