Published January 1, 2003.
We set out to turn four basic ingredients—flour, water, yeast, and salt—into a chewy, crusty bread that would put supermarket loaves to shame.
With a soft, pale crust and a flavorless, Styrofoam interior, supermarket Italian breads are cheap imitations of the real thing.
A rustic Italian bread that is chewy yet tender, crusty but not too tough, and easy enough to make at home.
Use bread flour to produce a hearty loaf with good height and thick crust. Start with a biga (a saltless, pre-fermented dough) made the day before to give the bread wheaty, multidimensional flavors. Mix using a technique called autolyse, in which the dough rests for 20 minutes before the biga is added. For consistent loaves, turn the dough—that is, delicately fold the dough over several times as it rises—to make sure the proteins are brought into alignment. (This method also reduces kneading time.) Shape quickly and gently so as not to deflate air pockets, but make sure the dough is taut enough to rise rather than sag in the oven. When baking, start with a blast of heat at 500 degrees, then reduce heat to 400 degrees for 35 minutes, spritzing the loaf with water to help form a crisp crust.list of recipes