Easy and quick Italian rustic crusty bread at home, no knead, no machine, no dutch oven, with only 2 hour rise time. Made by hand, with active dry instant yeast, flour and water and baked on a hot pizza stone.
I made us the perfect bread for soups, stews, bruschetta and to use for sandwiches / panini all week long.
A spin on my Italian pizza dough, except I use warm water to make the bread. Mix together flour, salt and instant yeast and let it rise for 2 hours.
Yes, just 2 hours for crusty bread you guys!
Then you bake it on a preheated pizza stone (<–amazon), for a peasant style loaf that crackles in your hands like a dream, yet still soft on the inside. Perfect for dipping or to dunk into a bowl of vegetable soup.
A good homemade bread will have a soft, fluffy center with big holes and a crust that crackles in your hand with even a gentle squeeze. Very important to not overwork the dough If you are looking for holes in your bread like the ones in the photo.
I swear there’s nothing like the magic of a pizza stone, however you could also bake it inside a cast iron skillet or dutch oven If you really wanted to.
How to serve and eat rustic crusty bread:
- dip in olive oil and fresh herbs.
- serve with pasta e ceci, potato jackfruit stew, Zuppa Toscana, tomato soup or beef stew
- make the ultimate tomato bruschetta
- enjoy it with fresh vegan mozzarella + roasted tomatoes
- just tear a crusty corner while still warm like nobody’s watching and spread some grass fed butter on it.
- add 2 tablespoons of rosemary to the dough, 3/4 cup of sliced black olives or sprinkle the top with poppy seeds before baking.
What makes the bread crusty ?
The secret is a bowl of water steaming under the pizza stone while the bread is baking. Steam makes crusty bread!
How to store:
Allow the loaf to cool off completely. Place it in a plastic bag and store on the kitchen counter at room temperature for a couple of days. I would not recommend freezing this kind of bread, instead If you find yourself with a stale chunk simply do as the Italians do: make a big pot of Ribollita or this Tuscan Papa Al Pomodoro soup.
Rustic Crusty Italian Bread Recipe Video
Rustic Italian Crusty Bread Recipe
- 3.25 cups all purpose flour + more for dusting
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1.5 cups warm water
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- In a large mixing bowl or your kitchen aid mixer add the flour, salt and yeast. Use a spatula or the paddle attachment and mix to combine well.
- Pour in the warm water and keep mixing until everything is incorporated and a soft dough has formed. It will still stick to the bottom of the bowl and that is OK.
- Cover the bowl with some plastic wrap loosely and a tea towel. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours until doubled in size.
- Sprinkle some flour on your kitchen counter and dump the bread dough on it. Flour your hands to help it out of the bowl as it will be sticky. Don't panic, this is normal.
- With floured hands fold the dough onto itself forming it into a round ball. Do not knead it, do not handle it anymore than you need to. Use a sharp knife and lightly carve an X in the top of the loaf or just make a few cuts across.
- Place the bread dough on top of a lightly floured pizza peel, cardboard or parchment paper and allow it to rest while your oven is heating up.
- Preheat your oven to 450”F with a pizza stone inside for about 45 minutes before baking the bread. Fill an oven proof bowl with 2 inches of water and place it on the bottom rack. This will create the steam that will cause the crust to become crispy as it bakes.
- Once your oven is hot sprinkle the pizza stone with some semolina flour or corn meal and carefully slide the bread loaf on top. Bake the bread for about 30 to 45 minutes until golden brown all over and cooked through.
- Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow to cool off completely before slicing into it. You can also let it cool inside the oven with the door slightly open.
Dutch Oven Method
- Instead of a pizza stone preheat your oven with a dutch oven inside. Once hot, carefully place the bread loaf inside the dutch oven ideally using parchment paper for easy transfer. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 5 minutes until golden brown on top. Remove the bread from the dutch oven and transfer to a cooling rack or it won't stay crispy.
Original Large Loaf Recipe:
- Ingredients: 1 package instant dry yeast (1/4 oz)6.25 cups all purpose flour + more for dusting2 tsp sea salt3 cups warm water.
- Instructions: Follow the above instructions and bake at 450"F for 45 minutes.
- Adaptation Jan. 2021 - because some people were having trouble working with a large loaf, I adapted the recipe to make a smaller loaf that is easier to handle and that will cook evenly even without a pizza stone. Those of you more experienced bakers with a pizza stone or a bread/ pizza oven feel free to double the recipe and make a huge rustic loaf out of this.
- Water dish - make sure you don't forget to add the dish with water in the oven to create steam If you are after an extra crusty loaf!
- Parchment paper - If using parchment paper make sure to check the box for the max temperature it can safely be used in.
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