What’s the first picture that comes to your mind when somebody says; Rustic, crusty Italian bread with creamy goat cheese and roasted cherry tomatoes, garnished with fresh basil?
Well, just the thought alone waters my mouth ready to have a bite.
But to have that yummy base, we need to make the bread, right?!
This basic bread recipe is without a mixer and no kneading is required. It’s also a super easy recipe to follow.
The way to achieve perfect crunch on this crusty Italian bread is to bake it in a Dutch oven. First, 20 min covered to let the bread rise and bake, and then 15 minutes without the lid to get that golden crunchy crust.
I love how tasty is the bread baked in Dutch oven. Unfortunately regular baking trays can’t achieve the same crust effect.
There are many brands of Dutch ovens from the economic to luxury ones, but their common purpose is to get uniform heat to help bread bring out the best, soft and crunchy parts of the bread.
The Dutch oven is multipurpose, so feel free to use it also for your other dishes and not only to bake bread.
A homemade Italian bread recipe
Today I will share with you how you could make quickly this super crunchy Italian bread.
Did you know that this bread is known for high hydration?
That means that the amount of water is very high compared to flour. That’s why you will see bigger holes in the inner parts of the bread. In the regular bread recipes, you will have a much lower quantity of water and denser bread pulp.
Perhaps you have been looking for the best no knead bread recipe. I have tried several, but then I always get back to this one.
The simplicity of all Italian bread is astonishing. Flour, water, yeast, and bits of sugar and salt. Simple ingredients for amazing crusty Italian bread everybody loves so much.
Once you mix the ingredients you will let the bread dough sit for 10 minutes and that fold with the wooden spoon the dough from the outside edges toward the inside. then you will cover it and repeat it the other 3 times every 10 minutes.
This process will allow gluten to work.
Then you can leave the bread overnight in your fridge to rise. Yes the dough rises also in low temperatures.
In case you want to bake the bread the same day you will take it out and roll the bread and then fold it on as if you see imaginary lines split in thirds.
You will do the folding in order to reinforce the dough.
Once you do it the first time let it rest for an hour and then fold it again and let it rest for another hour and then your bread will be ready to bake.
If you are baking your bread a day later, you will have to repeat the same procedure of dough folding.
How to make Italian bread dough recipe
To make this bread dough you will need 5 basic ingredients:
- dry or fresh yeast
You can use the regular plain flour or you can make your preferred mix 50/50 with Manitoba, cornflour, or integral flour.
Just play around and see what do you like the best.
As for yeast, this recipe requires 2 grams of dry yeast or 4 grams of fresh one (dry is more concentrated and therefore you need it less).
Remember when making the dough that sugar is the key factor which helps the yeast to start and to never add salt together with the sugar, but to wait until you have almost mixed the ingredients.
How to bake bread
This easy homemade bread is prepared in one bowl and baked in Dutch oven. It’s as simple as that. I didn’t use any mixers or tools apart from the wooden spoon.
I use this Italian bread recipe for bruschetta, as it had that perfect slice to hold our favorite toppings.
To bake the bread you will need to put your Dutch oven and let it pre-heat empty for about 10 minutes and then you will put the bread dough and bake covered for 20 minutes and then additionally 15 minutes without the cover.
I have to mention that this type of bread is not the white bread you might be used to it. It’s a bit chewy but in the same time wonderful with each bite.
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING: The reason why do bakers put flour on top of the bread is multiple:
- Flour on the top of the bread will prevent it from sticking to the lid of your Dutch oven.
- If you want to create cuts or special designs on the bread, the flour will allow the knife blade to slice the dough easier.
- The flour will prevent bread crust to burn fast.
What Italian’s do with bread leftovers?
Bread is sacred in Italy and we use it till the last crumb.
We make some creative solutions like slices of bread with tomato sauce, diced cheese, and aromatic herbs baked in the oven until cheese melts.
We make bread Italian bread crumbs, homemade croutons, pappa al pomodoro, we use it for stuffings for our au gratin dishes, and much more.
Did you make this Crusty Italian bread recipe?
Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #italiankitchenstories
Italian Kitchen Stories
Yields 1 loaf of bread
This crusty Italian bread is one of a kind. Prepare the dough it in the evening and let it rise while you sleep and bake it in the morning. Its a perfect Sunday brunch bread you can top with all the yummy goodness. You should try it!
20 minPrep Time
45 minCook Time
1 hr, 5 Total Time
- 400 (14 oz) grams of flour (regular flour or 50/50 mix with your Manitoba or Integral)
- 300 ml (10 oz) of water
- 2 grams (0.07 oz) of dry yeast (best would be brewers yeast)
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Take a large bowl and add the flour, dry yeast and sugar.
- Mix it together with the wooden spoon and start to add a bit of water and continue to mix.
- Add salt.
- Continue to add water until you have used all of it.
- The dough might look a bit grainy and uneven, but don't worry, it's part of the process.
- Once your dough has formed nicely put the plastic wrap on top of the bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Use the wooden spoon to flip the dough from the sides to the center of the bowl until you have done the full circle. Cover it again and let it rest for another 15 min.
- Repeat this step 3 times. Doing this your dough will become homogeneous and smoother.
- Now the dough is ready to be placed in the fridge to rise.
- You can keep in the fridge from 6 to 24 hours depending on when you want to bake the bread.
- When you decide to bake bread take it out, add flour on your working surface and flatten the dough into rectangle.
- Imagine that you have divided the dough in 3 parts. Now fold the left side over the middle and then the right side over the middle. Pinch the crossings so that they wouldn't open.
- Roll it and repeat the steps. In this way you will strengthen the bread base and it will not collapse.
- Place it back in it's bowl in which you have added some flour on the bottom and on top and let it rest for an hour covered on the room temperature.
- Put your Dutch oven with its lid into the oven and preheat for 10 minutes on 230 C (450F).
- Once the oven is hot, take it out carefully and place the bread.
- You can carve with your knife some designs (lines, or semi circles) if you want. I have allowed bread to make it's own natural shape.
- Bake the bread with the lid one for 30 minutes if you want thicker crust or 20 in you want lighter one.
- Once lid is removed bake another 15-20 minutes on 210 C (410 F).