Easy and quick artisan 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 then baked on a hot pizza stone.
Artisan Italian Crusty Bread Recipe
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 recipe, except here i use warm water to make the bread. Just mix together flour, salt and instant yeast then let rise for 2 hours. Only 2 hours for perfect homemade 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 hot 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. It’s very important to not overwork the dough if you are looking for airy holes in your bread like the ones in the photo above.
- Avoid the temptation to add more flour, simply dump the dough out of the bowl you mixed it in and shape into a loaf. No Kneading Allowed!
- 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 Crusty Bread
- dip in olive oil with red chili flakes and fresh herbs.
- alongside Pasta e Ceci, Zuppa Toscana, Roasted Pepper Tomato Soup + Frutti di Mare.
- make the ultimate Tomato Bruschetta!
- enjoy with Oven Roasted Tomatoes + vegan mozzarella.
- tear a crusty corner like nobody’s watching while still a little warm and spread a little butter on it.
- add 2 tablespoons of rosemary to the dough, 1/3 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. The steam makes a crusty loaf!
How to Store
Allow the loaf to cool off completely on a cooling rack on its side. 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 Italian do: make a big pot of Ribollita or this Tuscan Pappa al Pomodoro soup.
Rustic Crusty Italian Bread Recipe Video
Rustic Italian Crusty Bread Recipe
- 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.3.25 cups all purpose flour, 2 tsp instant yeast, 1 tsp sea salt
- 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.1.5 cups warm water
- 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.
- Keep it Crusty - make sure to allow your loaf to cool off completely on a high cooling rack so the moisture can escape through the bottom while the crust stays crispy. Alternatively allow the loaf to cool off on a rack inside the oven with door slightly open. (remove from dutch oven and discard parchment paper first).
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