This tasty, crusty italian bread is easy to make and is soft and pillowy on the inside. The basic recipe is from King Arthur Flour, and that recipe is based on the bread recipe that launched the “no knead” craze that Sullivan Street Bakery’s Jim Lahey famously shared with Mark Bittman several years ago.
Do you remember the first time you bit into a truly great piece of bread? I do. For many years I was a working musician. While the life of a musician is not as glamorous as you might think, there are perks. One such perk, if you’re willing to tour, is travel. One fine day I got a call from a booking agent, and before I knew it I was flying to Montreux, Switzerland to perform for an entire month.
What does that have to do with great bread? Well, Montreux is in the French speaking part of Switzerland, which means that the cuisine in that part of the country is also largely French. Every day my lunch included limitless slices of crusty baguettes, the outside so crisp, the inside so soft and weightless, yet somehow…substantial. As someone who loved bread but was nevertheless accustomed to the boring sliced white bread I grew up with, I couldn’t get enough. Wow! I thought, This is what bread is supposed to taste like!
This recipe for Italian bread reminds me of that first trip to Europe so many years ago. It’s crusty on the outside, yet soft and substantial when you bite into it. Slather yours with good butter and/or your favorite homemade jam and create some good food memories of your own.
- 32 ounces white flour
- 1½ tablespoons dry active yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 cups warm (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit) water
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- 2 tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano
- Combine dry ingredients
- Add water and mix just until all ingredients are combined
- Cover at room temperature for 2 hours
- Refrigerate for minimum of 2 hours (overnight is better)
- When dough is ready, place desired amount on floured surface
- Form dough into a baguette shape
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
- Sprinkle dried basil on top of loaf, cover and let rise for 30 minutes
- Sprinkle grated parmigiano reggiano on top of loaf
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until top is golden brown