Rustic Italian Bread

Submitted by: admin on April 2, 2020

Makes 1 Large Loaf


2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour
1⁄4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 cup water, room temperature
3 cups (16-1⁄2 ounces) bread flour
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1-1⁄3 cups water, room temperature
2 teaspoons salt


  1. FOR THE SPONGE: Using stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, yeast, and water together on low speed until mixture forms shaggy dough, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer sponge to medium bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature until beginning to bubble and rise, about 3 hours. Refrigerate sponge for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
  2. FOR THE DOUGH: Remove sponge from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while making dough. Using stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, yeast, and water together on low speed until rough dough is formed, about 3 minutes; cover bowl loosely with plastic and let dough rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Add sponge and salt to dough and knead on low speed until ingredients are incorporated and dough is formed (dough should clear sides of bowl but stick to very bottom), about 4 minutes. Increase mixer speed to medium-low and continue to knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 1 minute. Transfer dough to large, lightly greased bowl; cover tightly with plastic and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Spray rubber spatula or bowl scraper with vegetable oil spray. Fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 180 degrees; fold again. Finally, fold dough in half, perpendicular to first folds. (Dough shape should be rough square.) Cover with plastic and let dough rise for 1 hour. Repeat folding, replace plastic, and let dough rise 1 hour longer.
  5. Top pizza peel with parchment paper. Turn dough out onto well-floured counter (side of dough that was against bowl should now be facing up). Dust dough and hands liberally with flour and gently press dough into rough 10-inch square. Fold top corners of dough square into middle of dough, then gently roll and pinch dough into torpedo shape. Transfer loaf to prepared pizza peel, seam side down, and gently tuck dough into taut loaf. Spray loaf with oil spray, cover loosely with plastic, and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1-1⁄2 hours. (Dough should barely spring back when poked with knuckle.)
  6. One hour before baking, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Using sharp serrated knife or single-edge razor blade, make one 1⁄2 inch deep slash lengthwise along top of loaf, starting and stopping about 1-1⁄2 inches from ends. Spray loaf with water and slide parchment with loaf onto baking stone. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees and quickly rotate loaf using edges of parchment; continue to bake until crust is deep golden brown and loaf registers 210 degrees, about 35 minutes longer. Transfer loaf to wire rack, discard parchment, and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, before slicing and serving. (Bread can be wrapped in double layer of plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. Wrapped with additional layer of aluminum foil, bread can be frozen for up to 1 month.)

Replace 1-1⁄4 cups bread flour with 1-1⁄4 cups whole wheat flour.

1. After delicately pushing dough into 10-inch square, fold top right corner diagonally to middle.
2. Repeat step 1 with top left corner.
3. Begin to gently roll dough from top to bottom.
4. Continue rolling until dough forms rough log.
5. Roll dough onto its seam and, sliding your hands under each end, transfer dough to sheet of parchment paper.
6. Gently shape dough into 16-inch football shape by tucking bottom edges underneath.


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