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Rustic Italian Bread

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This Italian bread recipe takes some time but is absolutely, 100% worth the effort!
Course Bread
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Resting time 15 hrs
Total Time 16 hrs 30 mins
Servings 12 servings (1 loaf)
Calories 192
Author Michelle


For the Sponge:

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 cup water, at room temperature

For the Dough:

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1⅓ cups water, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  • Make the Sponge: Combine the flour, yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead at the lowest speed until a shaggy dough is formed, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature until it begins to bubble and rise, about 3 hours. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
  • Make the Dough: Remove the sponge from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while making the dough. Combine the flour, yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook; knead at the lowest speed until a rough dough is formed, about 3 minutes. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the plastic wrap, add the sponge and the salt, and knead at the lowest speed until the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is formed (the dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom), about 4 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and continue to knead until the dough forms a more cohesive ball, about 1 minute. Transfer the dough to a large, greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a cool, draft-free place until slightly risen and puffy, about 1 hour.
  • Remove the plastic wrap, slide a plastic bench scraper under one side of the dough, gently lift and fold a third of the dough toward the center. Repeat with the opposite side of the dough. Lastly, fold the dough in half, perpendicular to the first folds. The dough should be a rough square. Replace the plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 1 hour.
  • Turn the dough, repeating step #4. Replace the plastic wrap and let dough rise for 1 hour.
  • Shape the Dough: Liberally flour a work surface and gently scrape the dough from the bowl onto the work surface. Dust the dough and your hands liberally with flour and, using gently pressure, push the dough into a rough 8- to 10-inch square.
  • Fold the top right corner diagonally to the middle. Fold the top left corner diagonally to the middle. Begin to gently roll the dough from top to bottom, continuing to roll until the dough forms a rough log. Roll the dough onto its seam and, sliding your hands under each end, transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper. Gently shape the dough into a 16-inch football shape by tucking the bottom edges underneath. Dust the loaf liberally with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap; let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, place a baking stone on the rack, and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  • Bake the Bread: Using a single-edge razor or sharp knife, cut a slit ½-inch deep lengthwise along the top of the loaf, starting and stopping 1½ inches from the ends. Spray the loaf lightly with water. Slide the parchment sheet with the loaf onto a peel (or inverted rimmed baking sheet), then slide the parchment with the loaf onto the hot baking stone in the oven.
  • Bake 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and rotate the loaf from front to back; continue to bake until deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 210 degrees, 35 to 45 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack, discard the parchment, and cool the loaf to room temperature, about 2 hours.


Nutritional values are based on one serving


Calories: 192kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 6g | Sodium: 391mg | Potassium: 61mg | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 0.5mg