Easy Italian Farm Bread is the perfect bread for beginner bakers. No kneading, mixer or bread machine required. A crunchy crust and pillowy soft interior makes an exceptional loaf to rival any bakery.
- *4 cups all purpose flour (568 gm) (+ more as needed)
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 cups tap water (500 ml) (70 F)
- 3 tablespoons cornmeal (33 gm)
- an instant read thermometer
- 4–6 quart covered ovenproof pot
- 2 clean cotton towels (not terry cloth)
- Whole Wheat Variation: replace up to two cups of all purpose flour with whole wheat or oatmeal flour. Less rise but a delicious hearty flavor!
Make dough: In a large bowl combine 4 cups flour, yeast and salt. Add 2 cups water to a measuring cup and test with an instant read thermometer (water should be about 70 F), then add water to flour mixture. Mix gently with a rubber spatula just until flour disappears, forming a sticky, shaggy dough. If dough is dry, add another 1 – 2 tablespoons water. Cover with plastic wrap and rest at room temperature 18 -21 hours, until the surface shows tiny bubbles.
Flour and shape the rested dough: Line a clean cutting board with plastic wrap. Spread 1/4 cup all purpose flour on top of plastic. Dump out dough onto cutting board and fold it over twice (to lightly cover dough with flour). Gently form dough into a round shape. Loosely cover dough with more plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes.
Add cornmeal/let rest 2 hours: Line a sheet pan with a clean non terry cotton towel. Spread 2 tablespoons of cornmeal in the middle of the towel. Using the plastic wrap as handles, pick up the dough and turn it upside down onto the cornmeal covered towel. Gently reshape as needed into a circle and sprinkle remaining tablespoon cornmeal on top. Loosely cover with second cotton towel and let rest at room temperature for 2+ hours, until dough has doubled in size. ( Poke dough; if it doesn’t spring back easily, it’s ready to bake.) If your room is cold, set bread in oven (turned off) to rise.
Preheat oven to 450 F and position oven rack in bottom third of oven. Place an oven proof pot with a lid in oven fifteen minutes before you are ready to bake.
Ready to bake: use pot holders to remove covered pot from oven and set aside lid. Uncover the top towel and place both hands underneath the bottom towel to pick up the dough. (Careful NOT to touch the hot pot!) Stand over the center of the pot and quickly turn the dough upside down into the pot. If it looks uneven, use a rubber spatula to gently center the dough in the pot. Use oven mitts to place lid on pot and put it in the oven. Bake 30 minutes at 450 F, then remove cover and turn down oven to 425 F. Bake until top of bread is brown and crackly, 20 – 30 more minutes.
Bread is ready when an instant read thermometer inserted in the center reaches 210 F.
Let bread cool: Using an oven mitt, tip pot at an angle, then use tongs to move hot bread to a rack. Let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing. Makes 10 long or 20 half slices.
Slightly adapted from Mark Bittman’s No Knead Bread in How To Cook Everything,The Basics