In a large bowl, stir together all of the dough ingredients till cohesive. Knead the dough for 5 to 8 minutes, until it's smooth and supple, adding more water or flour as needed.
Cover the dough and allow it to rise for 1 hour, or until it's doubled in bulk.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and divide it into two pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth 16" log. Place the logs into the two wells of a lightly greased Italian bread pan, cover, and let the loaves rise until very puffy, about 1 hour.
Brush the loaves with the egg wash (or spray them with Quick Shine), then sprinkle heavily with sesame seeds. Slash the loaves diagonally, making 3 slashes in each, and immediately put them in the oven. Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for about 25 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown. For the crispiest crust, turn off the oven, prop the door open, and allow the bread to cool in the oven
Tips from our Bakers
- Tips for using your Italian bread pan: Before using for the first time, wash your new pan in hot, soapy water; rinse and dry. To clean after use, place the cooled pan in the dishwasher, or wash by hand using a non-abrasive pad in hot, soapy water. Rinse and dry completely. Scouring with metal pads, steel wool or abrasive cleaners will damage the pan's surface. This pan will gradually darken with use over time. This is normal, and will enhance the quality of the products you bake in it.
- To bake the loaves without a pan, shape, and place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving enough room between them for expansion. Continue with the recipe as directed.