Italian Bread

There is nothing that makes smiles appear at a dinner table like fresh homemade bread.
I swear my hubby can smell it a mile away on his way home from work!  This bread is so easy to make, and while you may think 2 loaves is too much, you won’t after you try it!  It’s super light on the inside, crusty on the outside.  I usually serve one with dinner, then freeze the second to use later.
I use it to make garlic bread, french bread pizza, sandwiches, french toast, or just plain with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
3 cups warm water
1 1/2 T active dry yeast
2 T plus 1/2 tsp sugar, divided
1 T salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
7 to 9 cups flour
1 egg white
Combine the water, yeast, and 1/2 tsp of the sugar in the bowl of a mixer. 
Cover bowl and let yeast bloom, about 5 minutes.
Add the salt, remaining sugar, butter, and 3 1/2 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture.
Mix dough with a dough hook on medium speed.
Add remining flour 1/2 cup at a time (up to 3 1/2 cups more).
The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl.  You want it slightly sticky, but if it is overly sticky, add up to 2 cups more flour, about 1/4 cup at a time.
Knead for about 10 minutes in the mixer or by hand on a lightly floured surface.
Transfer dough to a greased bowl (turn once to coat top of dough) and cover with a tea towel.
Let rise until double in size, about 20-30 minutes.
Punch down dough, divide into half.  Form each half into a 10 inch log.
Place on a greased cookie sheet.
Make a couple of diagonal cuts on top of each loaf with a sharp knife.
Beat the egg white and brush the tops of the loaves.
Let loaves rise until double in size, about 20-30 minutes.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Recipe Source: Adapted slightly from The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner by Liz Edmunds
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