Easy and quick artisan Italian bread recipe. No knead, no machine, and only a 2 hour rise time. Make as one round loaf or into several small football shaped loaves. A fantastic comfort bread!!
3 1/4 cups of all purpose flour (a little more for dusting)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups warm (room temperature) water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1. In a large bowl add flour and salt and mix well. Add yeast and mix well.
2. Pour in warm water and mix until everything is incorporated and a soft dough has formed. It will stick to the bottom of the bowl. This is okay.
3. Cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and a tea towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place, free of drafts, for 2 to 3 hours or until doubled in size.
4. Gently scoop out onto a bread board and dust with flour. You may have to flour hands as the dough will be a little sticky.
5. With floured hands, fold the dough into one round ball or cut into 8 pieces and gently form into small foot ball shapes. Dust slightly with flour. If you use one round ball, cut an “X” in the top of the loaf or make a few small cross cuts. If you use 8 football shape loaves, cut down the middle. Do not knead and do not handle it anymore than you need to.
6. Place the bread dough onto a cookie baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Cover with a tea towel and let it rest while your oven is preheating.
7. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place an oven proof bowl with 2 inches of water on the bottom rack. This will create the steam that will cause the crust to become crusty as it bakes.
8. Once the oven is hot, place the bread on the center rack and bake the bread for 30 to 45 minutes until golden brown all over and cooked through.
9. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow to cool off completely before slicing. You can also let the bread cool inside the oven with the door slightly open. I actually cheat with the small loaves and tear open a loaf shortly after I take it out of the oven. Poke some butter inside and you have gastric heaven!!
Enjoy this amazing rustic Italian bread with some Pasta e Fagioli as it is perfect for dipping!! Cheers, Drew Frederic