This crusty Italian loaf has to be the easiest, crustiest, and one of the tastiest loaves I have ever made. It is now one of my go-to loaf breads. And if that's not enough, there's no kneading. Just stir the ingredients together, wait four hours for the dough to rise on your countertop, shape into a rough loaf, baguettes, rolls or even pizza, and bake.
Nonna's Crusty Bread
4 cups, all-purpose, unbleached flour (I used King Arthur's flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
2 cups warm water
Oven-proof baking dish or casserole containing 2-3 cups of water (to be used while baking the bread)
Combine the dry ingredients for the bread in a large bowl. Add the 2 cups of warm water and stir to combine and forms a sticky mass.
Cover the bowl and allow the bread ingredients to rise for about 4 hours on your counter. The surface of the dough will have bubbles about 1/4 inch in diameter.
Preheat your oven to 500*F. Put your bakeware with the 2-3 cups of hot water in the oven. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Dump your dough out onto a well-floured surface, covering the outside surface with flour as the dough is wet and sticky. Handling the dough as little as possible (you're trying not to burst the bubbles) , shape your dough into your desired shape.
Bake in your preheated 500*F oven for 60 minutes, or depending on your oven, more or less time. For me, I found that 45 minutes was ample, but I also note that the ISicilian's bread is much darker than mine. I chickened out at 45 minutes, fearing that my bread would burn to a crisp.
For more hints about using this dough, I suggest you visit the post for Nonna's Crusty Bread. She has suggestions for keeping the dough in your refrigerator and for reheating the bread.