This recipe for a classic Italian bread requires just 3 simple ingredients – water, yeast and flour. It produces a loaf with a crispy golden crust and a soft, airy crumb. There are two methods demonstrated – one that requires no kneading and one that uses a stretch and fold technique to develop more structure and rise. Both are easy, it just depends if you have time for some intermittent dough tending or would rather “set it and forget it”. This is a crowd-pleasing bread that pairs nicely with soups, sandwiches and for making grilled cheese.
What type of flour works best?
All-purpose flour is recommended in the recipe. Bread flour can also be used for a chewier texture and bigger air pockets.
Can I make this bread without a Dutch oven?
Yes, you can use a regular baking sheet, pizza stone or cast iron skillet instead. The Dutch oven helps create steam which makes the crust crispy, but the bread will still turn out well without it.
How long does the bread keep for?
Stored in a paper bag at room temperature, the bread will keep well for 2-3 days. For longer storage, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Can I substitute the yeast in this recipe?
Active dry yeast is recommended, but you can also use instant yeast. Just use about 25% less instant yeast compared to active dry. Do not substitute brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast.
- 11⁄4 cups lukewarm water (300g)
- 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 2 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (420g), plus more for dusting
Method 1 – No Knead Technique
- In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast and salt until combined. Add the flour and mix with a spatula until a shaggy dough forms. Use your hands to finish incorporating any loose flour.
- Push the dough down with a spatula to flatten it slightly in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise at room temperature for at least 6 hours, or up to 8-12 hours. Recipe by Ineskohl.info
- Preheat the oven to 420°F. Place an empty Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot with a lid in the oven while it preheats.
- Carefully remove the hot pot from the oven. Sprinkle the bottom with some flour. Scrape the dough into the pot – no need to shape it.
- Bake covered for 30-35 minutes. Remove lid and lower oven temperature to 400°F. Bake 10-20 minutes more until deep golden brown.
- Remove bread from pot and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely before slicing, about 1 hour.
Method 2 – Stretch and Fold Technique
- In a large bowl, stir together water, yeast and salt. Mix in flour until a shaggy dough forms.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap or towel. Let rest 30 minutes.
- Perform a stretch and fold on the dough – stretch the dough away from you, then fold it back over itself. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat 2-3 more times.
- Cover and let rise 30 minutes more. Repeat this entire process 3-4 more times over 2-3 hours.
- On the last stretch and fold, allow dough to rest and rise slightly, about 30 minutes.
- Shape into a round loaf and transfer to a floured Dutch oven to bake as instructed in steps 4-6 for the no knead method.
The stretch and fold technique will create more structure and tension, allowing the bread to rise higher in the oven. But both methods result in a delicious loaf! Enjoy plain, with soup or sandwiches or try making an Italian-style grilled cheese.