No-Knead Rustic, Italian-style Bread, has recently become my go-to recipe every time we want a freshly baked, rustic white bread, Italian-style. An artisan no-knead, free-form loaf, easy and quick, with a nice crust and crumb, that doesn't last long in our house.
Song of the Day: Tonight Tonight - The Smashing Pumpkins.
Bread has always been a huge part of my life. It is usually a huge part of any Italian family, at least the old style ones, that have bread on their table at every meal.
For my father, buying bread is a daily thing. He and my mother, they go out to a bakery to buy fresh bread every morning, rain or shine. When they lay the table, every meal, lunch and dinner, in the dining room, with a tablecloth and everything, fresh sliced bread is always in the center, you'd be in trouble if you forgot. The bread is always rustic, in a free-form loaf, called "filone", with a beautiful crust that when sliced makes a mess of crumbs on the tablecloth, and airy holes, sometimes so big you can see through them. Nobody ever panics about the mess on the table, the most important thing is enjoying the meal (and be punctual if you're invited), lol.
For my mother, and her dearest memory, bread is always associated with figs. No dessert or breakfast, in her eyes, ever beats Pane e fichi, a slice of bread and figs gently pressed on top.
For my aunt, my mother's sister, a slice of rustic bread is a morning ritual. She pours warm milk in a breakfast bowl and breaks the bread inside. Then with a spoon, a satisfied look, and a soft smile, she scoops the soaked bread pieces in her mouth. Before that, a nice espresso enjoyed in bed, as my uncle still spoils her after many years of marriage.
For my nonna, bread was the perfect accompaniment to her favorite sauteed greens, cicoria, dandelions, that happen to be my favorite as well.
For me, it is the flavor of home and the beloved memory of nonna's concept of my after school snack: pane e zucchero, bread and sugar, for something sweet, or pane e olio, bread and olive oil, for something savory. That eventually transformed into pane e Nutella, or bread and any chocolate spread, still my favorite breakfast or snack up to date.
The sliced, soft, packaged bread (baked in the loaf tin) we have in Canada, in Italy is called pancarrè and is used mostly to make sandwiches, in Italian called tramezzini. You would never see it on a table as a "proper" bread. I miss the Italian bread so much, especially that nice crust! Do not get me wrong, I do like certain bread here, the ones we buy at the Farmer's market or at a couple favorite bakeries, but they all seem to have some kind of softness and "sponginess" and are perfect -for my taste- only when toasted. The other thing I noticed, is that the Italian bread doesn't get moldy as the Candian counterpart. It gets hard as days pass, that yes, like a hockey puck, and the only thing you can do with it, is making bread crumbs. Or do like my dad (the ultimate "waste not want not" advocate): if it gets too hard, wet it in water and do not even blink when you eat it. I know some of you may say "eww!" but think that this is how panzanella was created, lol, to use stale bread.
I was trying to find the right recipe for some time when, on an Italian website, I saw a recipe for a bread called Pane veloce veloce (quick quick bread). As you might know, by now, patience is not my strongest point, so the other requirement in order to be considered the right recipe, other than rustic and crusty, was quick. And this one wasn't just quick. It was quick quick. I was sold. I've made this No-Knead Rustic, Italian-style Bread already three times since then and it flagged all the boxes. All you need is:
- all-purpose flour
- yeast (I use fresh "baker's" yeast, but you can use active dry yeast as well)
- honey (or sugar)
To make a one-bowl, no-knead, rustic, crusty bread, that rises just once in one hour and a half and then it goes in the oven shaped in two free-form loaves.
Something that I have never done was to cut a slice just when it is starting to cool off and instead of reaching for the chocolate spread, I put a pat of salted butter on it. Talk to me a few years ago and butter was not even in my vocabulary. Talk to my mom and she still does not acknowledge it at all. But over the years here I have come to appreciate, in moderation, of course, a good quality, organic, butter, and so some of the Canadian culture has infiltrated me, lol.
I have to say, the first thing that comes in is the crunch of the crust. The airiness of the crumb is insurmountable and encased in that wonderful sounding echoing exterior of goodness, just fabulous. The melted butter was good too, rich, somewhat salty, and melted creaminess, and I know you would agree that the smell of freshly baked bread is enough to entice any foodie. I do not know if it molds quickly because it just disappears in just a couple of days.
If you like rustic artisan loaves and are looking for an easy breezy super delicious bread recipe, then you gotta try our No-Knead, Rustic, Italian-Style Bread!
Song of the Day: Tonight Tonight - The Smashing Pumpkins.Print
- 500 g (4 ½ cups) unbleached all purpose flour + more for the top
- 370 ml (1 ½ cup) lukewarm water
- 12 g (0,42 oz; 2 ¼ tsp fresh "baker's" yeast (or 1 ¼ tsp dry active yeast)
- 1 teaspoon honey (or sugar)
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- Dissolve yeast in ¼ cup of warm water and 1 teaspoon of honey.
- Put the flour in a bowl, add the dissolved yeast and the rest of the water and stir rapidly using a fork.
- Add the salt and stir. The dough will be soft and sticky, and definitely not smooth.
- Sprinkle the surface with more flour, cover with a damp cloth (or with plastic wrap) and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 430° F (220° C).
- Transfer the dough on a floured board using a spatula (the floured surface must be facing up) and divide the dough into two loaves.
- Gently transfer them onto a non-stick baking sheet, sprinkled with flour.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, then lower the oven to 320° F (160° C) and bake for additional 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Cool over a wire rack, at least 15 minutes, before cutting.
I find the fresh yest, otherwise called "baker's" or compressed yeast, in the refrigerated section of our Italian store. It looks like a pack of butter, and it lasts in the fridge about 4 weeks. I usually freeze it in small portions, well wrapped in plastic and take it out when I want to bake.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Bread
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Italian
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I love baking and kneading dough because it takes me to a happy place in my soul.