Artisian Italian Bread

I am in LOVE!  I am in love with this Bread!!!  I have been making it everyday for a week.  This recipe is easy and delicious.  It is an Italian, hard crust with a hearty chewy center.  The surprising thing is that it is not made in a big mixer, or a bread maker, but just stirred together in a bowl.  The unusual thing is that it takes a tiny amount of yeast and therefore a long rise lets it develop a wonderful texture with big bubbles (or holes).  So, if you want a loaf tomorrow, you mix it up today, let it rise all day and night (11-18 hours) and bake it tomorrow.  It is very forgiving as to time since it rises so slowly.  The last unusual thing is that when you are ready to bake it, you preheat a heavy lidded pan first then bake it in the pan.  It turns out so beautifully, and tastes just like you got it from an bakery artisan in Europe with his open hearth oven.  Now that I have you smelling that wonderful aroma, here is the recipe:
No-Knead Bread in a Pot

3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/3 cup cold water (55-65 degrees)
Whisk dry ingredients with yeast in a fairly large bowl.  Add water and using a wooden spoon mix until you have a wet sticky dough for about 30 seconds.  It should be sticky to the touch.  If it is not, add some more water.
 Cover the bowl with plastic wrap-sprayed with Pam.  Let it sit for about 11-18 hours.  This slow rise is the key to the flavor.
 After the first rise, scrape it down in the bowl.  Dump it out onto a floured surface, and with a rubber scraper shape it into a round using as little flour as possible. 
Get a square of Parchment paper larger than a cake round and spray the paper with Pam.  Place the dough round onto the Parchment paper and place it in the cake round.  Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with Pam.  Let this rise for about 1-2 hours. 
Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees and put the oven proof heavy pot (I use an enameled cast iron  3 1/2 qt. pan-like Le Cruset) into the oven with it's lid too. 
When the time is up for the second rise, put this dough which is on the parchment into the preheated pot.
At this point you can cut an X in the top with a very sharp knife. and put it in the oven with the lid on.  (I unscrew the actual handle since it is made of a plastic.)  Bake for 30 minutes.
Then take the lid off. It will look good but it still needs to cook longer.So bake for about 15-20 minutes more. 
The crust will get dark brown and may look burned but it makes a delicious hard crust and the center has to get cooked so it needs to bake this long.  Carefully lift the loaf out of the pot by the parchment paper and hot pads.  Let it sit about an hour to cool before slicing.  Use a good sharp bread knife to cut it.  I have made variations of this bread by adding kalamata olives and rosemary (and/or parmesan cheese) or another one is walnuts, raisins and cinnamon.  I have used 1 cup of whole wheat in place of some of the bread flour too.  All are delicious!
(I was able to purchase my enameled cast iron pan from TJMaxx for $35.00)  If you decide to try it I'd love to hear what you think about it!


Andrea said...

Oh my gracious, that looks delicious. I am so bad with good bread though, I'd probably sit right down and eat it all!

I wanted to let you know where to send skirts when you are ready. The address is at www.lilatuellerdesigns.blogspot.com. If you have any questions, let me or her know! Thanks! Andrea

jenjen said...

That bread is delicious! Thanks for making us some. We gobbled it down! I will have to try making it!


Cass @ That Old House said...

This is so intriguing! I used to bake all our bread, but I have never seen any method quite like this one!

I will try it when my girls are home; otherwise Howard and I will eat it ALL, too quickly!


J.J. said...

jen jen pointed me your way about this lovely recipe! I can't wait to try it. Do you happen to have one that you love for bread that you can use for sandwiches and french toast, etc.? I am wanting to switch to making my own bread without having to by a bread machine. Dunno if that will work. Might have to buy a machine. Have a great week!

Marie said...

That sounds and looks fabulous Jean!! I will be sure to give this a go when I get to Chester and am unpacked enough to be able to do so!! I am not so great at baking bread. Maybe this one I can do!! xxoo

Beth at Aunties said...

We LOVE artisan bread too. This looks so delicious and definitly will be a recipe I want to try. I have already saved it:)

becca said...

this looks amazing! i love homemade bread, but have failed in any and all attempts to make it. so sad. maybe i will get up the courage to try this recipe this weekend.