Chewy Italian Bread

Chewy Italian Bread created by Chookie23

This is a fairly labor-intensive bread but very much worth it.

Ready In:



  • To make the biga:

  • Combine 1/4 teaspoons yeast and 1/4 cup warm water, let stand about 5 minutes, until dissolved. Mix in 3/4 cup flour until completely moistened. Gather into a ball and put into a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 3 - 5 hours, until very bubbly and tripled in size.
  • To mix dough, combine 1 teaspoons yeast in 1/4 cup warm water until dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  • Place biga in a large bowl, add 1/4 cup ice cold water and mix on low speed with paddle until smooth, add yeast mixture, salt and remaining 3/4 cup ice cold water, mix until blended. Add 2 3/4 cups flour and beat on medium speed until well blended. Change to dough hook and beat on medium speed until very smooth and elastic, about 12 - 15 minutes (dough will be very sticky).
  • Scrape dough into an oiled 2 quart bowl, wrap with plastic wrap and let rise until tripled in size, about 3 hours.
  • Sprinkle board generously with flour and scrape dough onto it. With floured hands, gently fold in half and pinch a seam, turn over and form into a 12 - 13 inch smooth log. Lightly sprinkle with flour, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand until puffy, about 30 minutes.
  • While dough is rising, place a large baking stone (or large baking sheet) in oven and set to 425°F, let heat at least 30 minutes. Flour a 14" x 17" piece of stiff cardboard or unedged baking sheet and gently lift dough onto it, stretching dough out to about 16 inches long. Shake floured board or sheet to slide dough diagonally onto baking stone or baking sheet.
  • Bake until deep golden brown, about 30 - 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
  • Times are approximate, altogether the bread takes most of the day to complete.
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"This is a fairly labor-intensive bread but very much worth it."

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  1. MirahBee16
    I made this bread yesterday and it was delicious. However, when I got to this step, "With floured hands, gently fold in half and pinch a seam..." I don't know if i did this correctly, as my bread didn't seem to rise much. Can anyone give me a different description, or any suggestions on what may have caused it to not rise as much while on the board?
  2. nc28222
    What a fantastic recipe! I'm a total beginner to bread baking, and this helped me succeed on my first Italian loaf. So chewy on the inside, with a perfect crust. I made the following slight (possibly even negligible, I'm not a pro) tweaks: I didn't have a pizza stone, so I baked this on a cookie sheet with a layer of parchment paper. I actually performed the second rise (after folding the dough) directly on the floured parchment paper to avoid the transfer step and it worked fine, just stretched the dough as indicated before baking. To make sure the crust didn't form too early (therefore stunting the stretch of the dough), I put a second cookie sheet on the bottom rack of the oven while preheating and just as I put the bread in, poured 1 c of water into it which steamed the oven for the first half of the cook time. The dough did NOT look like it was actually being kneaded in my mixer - more like mixed a little. I looked at videos online for sticky doughs (e.g. ciabatta bread) and they were SO helpful. According to these, my dough was "kneading" fine. They also REALLY help with learning how to "fold" a bread so sticky before forming into the loaf.
  3. Chookie23
    Chewy Italian Bread Created by Chookie23
  4. Chookie23
    Perfect as is, dont try bread flour, just standard all purpose is fantastic. Thanks, this recipe is a keeper, Good chewy outside and a soft wonderful inside. Tastes better than some more difficult recipes i've tried. Can use the biga anytime between 3 hours and 24 hours, i like to make my biga at night and just sit until im ready the next day, leaving a 4 hour process, thanks again, highly recommend
  5. JPerez
    Awesome bread! My husband and I give this 10 stars for great taste and great chewy texture. I did reduce the salt a tad bit (used about a tsp and a half). I used the bread machine to make the dough and then formed into a loaf and let rise before baking in a 375 degree oven along with a pan of water. Thanks for posting this awesome recipe!

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