This bread is a little time intensive, but I've found if you decrease the rising times it still works out beautifully. I would recommend rising 1 hour for the first rise, 20 minutes for the second rise. This is a serious reduction of the original rising time. If you have the time, do the full 2 hours and 40 minutes of rising, but if you don't, don't be afraid to decrease the time.
After the first rise, take the entire ball of dough and roll it into a long loaf then cut it in half with a dough cutter and line on your Italian Loaf Pan. According to the original recipe, you can also bake the loaves on a pizza stone or on the back of a baking sheet, so don't worry if you don't have an Italian loaf pan, although it helps make a crusty bread.
The bread goes great with anything. Traditionally we have it with spaghetti on nights before long runs, but we've also had it with pasta and peas and most recently as a sandwich with Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausages sauteed with peppers and onions. It's also great paired with a soup.
For more detailed instructions, check out Cook Like Your Grandmother's post. The author, Drew Kime, provides step-by-step instructions.
Crusty Italian Bread Adapted from Cook Like Your Grandmother
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 cup warm water
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Combine yeast and 1/4 cup warm water in small bowl. Let sit 3 minutes or until small bubbles form and yeast dissolves.
Pour 1 cup warm water in large bowl. Add dissolved yeast. Combine.
Add flour, sugar and salt. Mix until combined.
Once combined, add olive oil.
Knead for five minutes. Transfer dough to oiled bowl. Let rise one hour.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Roll dough in long loaf. Cut in half. Place on Italian loaf pan. Let rise 20 minutes.
Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven to 400 degrees. Bake an additional 15 minutes. Cover loaves with aluminum foil. Continue to bake an additional 10 minutes.