Rustic Italian Bread

From Cook's Illustrated | January/February 2003

Why this recipe works:

For a rustic Italian bread recipe with a chewy but tender crumb, crusty but not tough, we used bread flour, which gave our bread height and a thick crust. Biga (a traditional Italian pre-ferment) mixed the day before gave the bread a wheaty, multidimensional flavor. A mixing technique called… read more

For a rustic Italian bread recipe with a chewy but tender crumb, crusty but not tough, we used bread flour, which gave our bread height and a thick crust. Biga (a traditional Italian pre-ferment) mixed the day before gave the bread a wheaty, multidimensional flavor. A mixing technique called autolyse developed the dough’s protein while reducing kneading time.

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Makes 1 large loaf, about 2 1/2 pounds

This recipe requires a standing mixer to make the dough, a spray-bottle filled with water for spritzing, a rectangular baking stone, and an instant-read thermometer for gauging doneness. It also requires a bit of patience—the biga, which gives the bread flavor, must be made 11 to 27 hours before the dough is made.

Ingredients