Knead dough? Not with this very easy recipe for a crusty Italian Bread. You basically just dump everything together, mix, raise and bake!
Cook/Prep time – about four hours
Makes one loaf
- 2 – 2 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup lukewarm purified water
- 2 tbsp cornmeal
- 1 tbsp butter
- about a dozen ice cubes
You will need a mixer with a dough hook attachment. Add water and yeast to the mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve. Add the salt, sugar and two cups of the flour. Mix on medium speed for about 8 minutes and slowly add more flour if needed so that the dough comes away from the bowl. When the dough comes away from the bowl, turn off and cover the top of the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it set for 15 minutes.
After the 15 minute rest, form the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Sprinkle the cornmeal onto a parchment lined sheet pan, or if using a pizza stone, (like I do) put the parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal on a flat surface such as a cutting board. Punch dough down to let the air out. Form the ball into a loaf and place on the parchment paper and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let set for 15 minutes then make slashes with a sharp knife or lame. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the pizza stone (if you are using one) and a cast iron skillet in the oven to heat up. Spray or brush loaf with water and cover again and let sit for about 30 more minutes.
Place the cast iron skillet into the bottom shelf of the oven. Turn oven down to 375 degrees. spray the loaves with water again. Remove the pizza stone from the oven if using one, and slide the bread on the parchment onto the pizza stone and place in the oven. If cooking on a sheet pan, place into the oven on middle shelf. Add 6 ice cubes to the cast iron skillet and close the oven. The ice cubes will produce steam, which will help make a crispy crust. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Check after 15 minutes and add the other 6 ice cubes and continue to cook until the loaf is browned and feels hollow when tapped. If in doubt, temperature should be 190-200 degrees when instant read thermometer is inserted into the middle of the loaf. Brush with butter. Let loaf cool on a baking rack for 20 minutes before slicing.
Suggested music for your listening pleasure while preparing this loaf of bread….
” ‘O Sole Mio” by the late Luciano Pavarotti from his album “Favorite Neapolitan Songs” released in 1984.
“Perhaps Love” a duet by Placido Domingo and John Denver from Placido Domingo’s album “Perhaps Love” released in September 1981. Or his newer album “Songs” released in 2018 featuring duets with Josh Groban, Harry Connick, Jr.,Susan Boyle and a duet with his son, Placido Jr. “What a Wonderful World”
To see the Kitchen Aid mixer that I use, click on the picture below…