Crusty (Italian) Loaf

The Crusty Loaf is not your typical Italian Bread. It’s not the plump tubular loaf you’re used to. The loaf is more of your break apart and share type of bread. It is crusty on the outside, but soft on the inside. It is wonderful with butter or made in garlic cheese bread. It’s odd shape makes it perfect for large Italian Pressed sandwiches!

The Crusty Loaf has just a few ingredients and comes together easily. It has a longer rise, but is still super simple to make!

Give it a try and let me know how it comes out for you! I’d love to see finished photos as well!

Recipe: Crusty Loaf

Servings: 2 loaves

Time: 4 hours

Ingredients:

  • 21.5 ounces all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the board
  • 2 cups warm (100-110°F) water
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tsp instant yeast
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • ½ tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 cups hot water

Directions:

Heat the 2 cups of water to 100-110°F. Using a kitchen thermometer to check. If you do not have a thermometer, use your finger, the water should feel warm, not hot.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, warm water, salt, and yeast.

On the lowest speed, allow the ingredients to combine together. Allow this to mix for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, stop the mixer. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is mixed together.

Turn the mixer back onto the lowest speed and allow it to knead the dough for another 5 minutes.

Using the ½ tbsp oil, grease the bowl you will use to allow the dough to rise.

After the dough is finished mixing for ten minutes, pour the dough into the greased bowl. The dough will be sticky and slightly runny. Use a spatula to scrape the bowl and make sure all of the dough gets into the greased bowl.

Cover the greased bowl with plastic wrap and a towel. Allow the dough to rise in a draft free space for 2 hours.

After two hours, turn out the dough onto a floured surface. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half lightly on the floured surface to make sure it is covered in flour. Be careful not to incorporate the flour into the dough, just lightly cover the surface.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a pizza stone in the oven while the oven heats.

On a flat pan (such as a cookie sheet turned upside down) liberally sprinkle the surface with cornmeal.

Place each half onto the cornmeal surface. Make sure the two halves do not touch. Wiggle the loaves around a bit to make sure they can slide off easily onto the pizza stone. If any part of the loaf sticks, toss a little more cornmeal under that spot.

Set the pan with the loaves on top of the oven while it heats. Allow loaves to have their second proof on top of the oven for 40 minutes. Leave the oven on with the pizza stone into the oven at 450°F the whole 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, pull the pizza stone out of the oven and transfer the loaves onto the hot pizza stone. Place the stone back in the oven.

In a metal cake pan, pour in two cups of hot water. I just allow the tap water to heat up as much as it can. I don’t measure the temperature for this. Place the water filled pan in the bottom of the oven. This is the DIY way to create a steam injected oven in a traditional kitchen oven.

Allow the loaves to bake for 30-40 minutes or until they are golden and hollow sounding when you tap them.

Once the loaves have finished baking, turn off the oven, but do not remove the loaves from the oven. Let the loaves cool in the off oven for at least an hour.

After an hour, move the loaves to a cooling rack. Now brush them with melted butter.

Allow the loaves to cool completely before cutting.

Notes:

  • Store the loaves in airtight containers for no more than a week. You can freeze the loaves for up to one month.
  • If you don’t have a pizza stone, use a large cookie sheet turned upside down.
  • If you do not have instant yeast, you can replace it with active dry yeast. Just allow the active dry yeast to sit in the bowl for 15 minutes, as it takes a little longer to activate. Also note that instant yeast and rapid rise yeast are the same thing.
  • If you do not have a stand mixer, you will need to hand knead the dough. This will take about 8-10 minutes. To hand knead, put the dough in a lightly floured surface. Pull up half the dough and fold it in half. Then pull from the top and fold the dough in half again. Then repeat half and half and half again for about 8-10 minutes.

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