Stuff this homemade Italian bread with cured meats and cheeses, or simply dip it in olive oil.

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Ingredients

For the Starter
For the Dough

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Make the starter: Using your hands, combine flour, yeast, and water in a bowl. Gently work to form a ball. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand at cool room temperature until it has risen slightly and is bubbling, 12 to 15 hours.

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  • Make the dough: Whisk together flour and yeast in a large bowl. Add water and starter, and stir with a rubber spatula until mixture comes together in a slightly sticky, loosely formed ball of dough. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 20 minutes.

  • Gently turn dough onto an unfloured work surface. Sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with oil. To incorporate oil into bread, use the heel of one hand to stretch half of the dough away from you at the same time your other hand is stretching the other half toward you. Fold in half, and repeat until oil has been completely incorporated (dough will no longer have a sheen to it and there should be no oil on work surface).

  • To knead: Gather dough, lifting it above work surface. Hold one end of dough close to you while you cast the other end in front of you, onto the surface. Pull the end of dough in your hands toward you, stretching it gently, then fold the dough in half on top of itself. Repeat: Lift, cast, stretch, and fold. Knead the dough until it is smooth, supple, and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Use a dough scraper to clean the surface as needed, adding the scraps to the dough. (Dough will be very sticky, but avoid adding more flour until the end, when it may be necessary to add a very small amount. Add the flour to your fingers, not the dough.) Form into a ball.

  • Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise at cool room temperature for 45 minutes.

  • Gently turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. (Do not punch dough to deflate.) Fold into thirds, as you would a business letter. Then fold it in half crosswise. Return to bowl, cover, and let rise at cool room temperature until it has almost doubled, at least 75 minutes.

  • Gently turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Using a dough scraper or a knife, divide dough into 2 equal portions. Cover with oiled plastic wrap, and let rest for 20 minutes.

  • On a lightly floured surface, spread each portion of dough into a rectangle that's roughly 6 by 4 inches. (Be careful not to deflate bubbles.) Fold dough into thirds again, as you would a business letter, pressing seams with lightly floured fingers. Place dough, seam side down, on a generously floured linen towel or a baking sheet lined with floured parchment. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and let rise at cool room temperature until it has almost doubled and a floured finger pressed into side leaves a slight indentation, 40 to 50 minutes.

  • Place a skillet on oven rack adjusted to lowest position and a baking stone on middle oven rack. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. If using a linen towel, gently transfer dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Just before baking, stretch each portion into a 10-by-4-inch rectangle. Immediately dimple entire surface with lightly floured fingers. Pour 1/2 cup hot water into skillet in oven. Slide bread and parchment onto baking stone.

  • Immediately reduce oven to 450 degrees. Bake, rotating once, until bread is golden brown, sounds hollow when bottom is thumped, and interior registers 205 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool on wire racks. Bread is best the day you make it.

Cook's Notes

The amount of water needed in this recipe will vary according to the temperature and humidity of your kitchen. On a cool, dry day you may need up to 7 ounces of water in step 2 to create a sticky dough. (It should cling to the bowl and look craggy.) Don't worry if the mixture feels too wet and loose when you begin kneading -- the flour will absorb the water as you stretch and fold the dough.

Cook's Notes

Bread can be wrapped in parchment and then foil, and stored at room temperature overnight.

Cook's Notes

Bread can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw at room temperature before serving.

Reviews (6)

21 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 1
  • 4 star values: 6
  • 3 star values: 9
  • 2 star values: 2
  • 1 star values: 3
Rating: 5 stars
08/07/2013
Mi twin sister made it and it was amazing!! we turned it to garlic bread which we served with an amazing homamde tomato soup, we had to make two batches, one to taste (we couldn't stop eating it) and a second batch for dinner.
Rating: Unrated
06/19/2009
I had the best roll of bread in my last visit to NY, Its the best memory I had from the USA, a rosemary bread from Zabarz, crunchy crust, gooey and bounces in the inside, used to eat it with olive oil EV, muuum, please anybody can get me the recipe
Rating: Unrated
05/20/2008
Ginger is correct, timing is all important when making dough. Check out the no-knead rosemary and lemon bread recipe. That recipe calls for an 18 hour rise and then an additional 2 hour rise but well worth the wait. If you don't autolyse pizza dough, you will not get the light airy crust that is so desirable in a good pizza crust. Happy waiting!
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Rating: Unrated
01/20/2008
Mary, When making and using a starter for bread, it does require that amount of time. The time is necessary for developing the yeast, texture and flavor. Well worth it. I have found that among all the other components, patience is just as important in making good bread Ginger
Rating: Unrated
01/20/2008
Mary, When making and using a starter for bread, it does require that amount of time. The time is necessary for developing the yeast, texture and flavor. Well worth it. I have found that among all the other components, patience is just as important in making good bread Ginger
Rating: Unrated
01/18/2008
Does this really take 12 to 15 hours to rise? I hope that is a type.
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