Preparation / Directions:
In a medium bowl combine the salt, malt syrup, dry milk, yeast, and warm water. Stir to dissolve the malt. If using the liquid, stir well as it is heavy and thick.
In a mixing or mixer bowl place 4 cups flour and form a well in the center. Pour in the malt-milk- yeast mixture; stir to form a batter. Add the oil. Beat with the flat beater at medium speed for 10 minutes Scrape down the sides of the bowl. if necessary.
Stop the mixer. Add additional flour, a half cup at cup at a time. When the dough is firm, take it from the bowl.
Kneading: The dough will be soft, elastic and warm to the touch. The dough hook of the electric mixer is fine for working this dough but be mindful that this large amount of dough may force some of it up and over the protecting collar and into the spring mechanism. Push the dough back by holding a rubber spatula between it and the collar while the dough hook revolves.
FIRST RISING - These risings can be reduced by half if using rapid rise yeast. 2 hours
SECOND RISING - 30 mins.
SHAPING: Cut dough in half. Form into two loaves. Place on baking sheets for:
THIRD RISING - ONE HOUR Preheat the oven to 42 about 20 minutes before baking.
BAKING: Cut a tic-tac-toe design on the loaves if they are flat. Brush the loaves with water and place in the oven. This bread is baked in a dry oven, so no pan of water is needed. Bake 40-50 minutes. If two shelves are used, rotate the baking sheets two or three times.
FINAL STEP. PLACE the loaves on a metal rack to cool.
NOTES: The less you knead this bread, the lighter and airier it will be. I personally like the holes in the bread. This dough is extremely soft and it is difficult to get it to keep its shape. I have a bakers 2 loaf French bread tray. I often use this tray for baking this bread. I also have a baking stone and make round loaves which tend to come out somewhat flat. You can get about 3 long loaves from this dough or four if you make them like a baguette.
When I first made this bread, my husband was amazed that you could make this good Italian bread in a home oven. We have since given up buying Italian bread from a bakery.