Prep 30 mins
Cook 2 hrs 40 mins
This is a basic free form loaf of simple, delicious Italian Bread. I make it regularly, and have never messed it up--which is saying a lot;-) Substitute a cup of whole wheat or spelt flour for one of the cups of all-purpose for a heartier flavor and more nutritional value. This bread is definitely best on day of baking; like French bread, it goes stale after the first day. Use any left-over to make dry bread-crumbs for other recipes. From Confident Cooking Breads and Rolls.
- Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Cover and leave in warm place until frothy--approximately 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sift 3 cups flour with salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center.
- Pour yeast/water mixture, Agave, oil, and 1 cup extra water into the well.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir until mixture is well-combined and forms a rough ball. Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface, and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Add extra flour as necessary to form a smooth ball.
- Place dough in large, lightly oiled bowl. Brush surface of dough with oil. Cover and leave to rise in warm place for about 1 hour or until well risen.
- Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal.
- Punch down dough and knead for 1 minute. Shape dough into smooth ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Slightly flatten top.
- Using a sharp knife, slash a criss-cross/checkerboard pattern into the top of the dough. Cover and leave to rise in warm place for about 1 hour or until well risen.
- Preheat oven to 350°F Place a shallow baking dish containing 2 cups of water in the bottom of the oven to help bread form a hard crust.
- Brush dough with glaze of water and salt; sprinkle with cornmeal or flour.
- Bake 35-40 minutes or until base of bread sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.
Awesome bread! Easy to work with the dough. I added crushed red pepper and Italian herbs. One oh the best bread recipes I've tried, and I have tried many. This one I'm printing out for my recipe book. Thanks for the awesome recipe!
This bread was delicious! I was looking for recipe for a round bread since I didn't have a loaf pan and this one was perfect! It was my first time baking bread and I am totally hooked! I love how the outside was crusty and the inside was chewy and thick. Thanks Serah!
Excellent bread! Followed instructions, except that I kneaded the dough in my mixer. I baked the loaf on stones on the lowest shelf of the oven with two small containers of water on either side. The result was a pretty loaf with a great crust and a lovely crumb. I have a small portion left for what I know will be wonderful French toast. Thank you, Serah!