Amy Riolo: Hi, I am Amy Riolo and we are making Italian wheat bread. We have just added our sponge to the rest of our dough and we have made this dough after kneading it. It has been resting for 20 minutes and it looks like this. Now we are ready to shape it and what we have to shape it is just to form it into a ball and when we form it into a ball we can place it onto our prepared baking sheet.
You could also make two smaller ones, but for this one we are going to do one larger one. You can see how sticky it is. It is sticking to my hand, but that's okay. You want that consistency for this bread so don't be worried. So now what we have to do when this one sits on the baking sheet is we are going to cover it with an oiled plastic wrap and set it aside for about three hours until it triples in volume.
When it triples in volume, it's going to look like this. It's going to be a much rounder disc. We can pull our oil off and then we are going to make a cross with a sharp knife on top. Now a lot of people think that the cross has a reason for baking, that it has a really fancy reason and it's not. It actually has a traditional, cultural reason. People used to make markings in their bread because they had communal ovens. So they would have to bring the breads to the oven to be baked all together and in order to tell whose bread was whose, they would make fancy marks on top. So that's why bakers still do that today.
Because we have got this one ready to go, we can go ahead and bake it. Our oven is preheated to 425 degrees and you want to make sure to bake this on the lowest rack possible. That's going to give you a really nice color and a darker cross. That will bake for about 30 minutes and when it has finished baking, it's going to look like this. This is your Italian whole wheat bread.