To make a nice crusty bread, bake bread in the afternoon and pop into oven again for 5 minutes before meal. You'll be surprised how much better it is if you reheat it that last 5 minutes.
This is a really good bread, but the recipe is VERY vague. For example, it says to shape the dough into loaves, placing the seam side down...what seam? See now, if I didn't know any better, I wouldn't have rolled the dough into a rectangle & then rolled it (like a jelly roll) into a "loaf", making a seam...to put "seamside" down. BUT I just assumed that rolling was the way to go & the bread turned out great. I don't have a bread machine, so I made it using my kitchen aid w/ the dough hook. I also took it out of the oven after 15 minutes & brushed it again with egg white & that also gave it a very nice crust. I liked the addition of brown sugar in this recipe compared to my normal recipe. Thanks for the tip Verla! - 17 Feb 2003 (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)
This was an excellent Italian bread recipe, but it's a good thing I checked it after a few minutes of kneading in the machine; it was like batter instead of dough! I ended up adding about 3/4 C. more flour just so it would knead into a ball. It was still rather hard to handle, but I did manage to get it into loaves. Thankfully, the end result was super! I strongly urge that 5 minutes in the oven before serving; it was the finishing touch for a nice, crusty loaf! Will make again. - 11 Nov 2007 (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)
THIS BREAD IS AWESOME!!!!!! THE BEST ITALIAN BREAD I HAVE EVER MADE! My family loves this bread. I have made it 3 times already and it has turned out great every time. The only change I have made was that one time I put sesame seeds, one time I put poppy seeds, and once I made it plain. Thanks for this recipe I will be making this bread for a long time. - 28 Jan 2003 (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)