Best Yet, Easiest Yet, Crusty Italian Bread

This crusty Italian loaf has to be the easiest, crustiest, and one of the tastiest loaves I have ever made.  It is now one of my go-to loaf breads.  And if that’s not enough, there’s no kneading.  Just stir the ingredients together, wait four hours for the dough to rise on your countertop, shape into a rough loaf, baguettes, rolls or even pizza, and bake. 

Look at that gorgeous crust.  The first night when I served this, the crust was crispy, chewy on the outside, soft and luxurious on the inside.  I wrapped the remaining loaf in aluminium foil the the crust softened, but the inside was still delicious and wonderfully soft on the inside.  I can’t wait to try this recipe as hard rolls to serve with soup or to use it as a pizza crust.  I think it will be outstanding!

Nonna’s Crusty Bread

4 cups, all-purpose, unbleached flour (I used King Arthur’s flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
2 cups warm water

Oven-proof baking dish or casserole containing 2-3 cups of water (to be used while baking the bread)

Combine the dry ingredients for the bread in a large bowl.  Add the 2 cups of warm water and stir to combine and forms a sticky mass. 

Cover the bowl and allow the bread ingredients to rise for about 4 hours on your counter.  The surface of the dough will have bubbles about 1/4 inch in diameter. 

Preheat your oven to 500*F.  Put your bakeware with the 2-3 cups of hot water in the oven.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Dump your dough out onto a well-floured surface, covering the outside surface with flour as the dough is wet and sticky.  Handling the dough as little as possible (you’re trying not to burst the bubbles) , shape your dough into your desired shape. 

Bake in your preheated 500*F oven for 60 minutes, or depending on your oven, more or less time.  For me, I found that 45 minutes was ample, but I also note that the ISicilian’s bread is much darker than mine.  I chickened out at 45 minutes, fearing that my bread would burn to a crisp.

For more hints about using this dough, I suggest you visit the post for Nonna’s Crusty Bread .  She has suggestions for keeping the dough in your refrigerator and for reheating the bread.

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