Italian Bread

9 Jan

There is bread, and there is fresh bread, then there is fresh homemade bread! I am completely and totally addicted to bread. Ever since I learned the techniques of using my Kitchen Aid mixer, I just cannot stop making bread on the weekend.  This weekend was no exception. My bread making adventures continued with Italian bread! This bread’s secret is the pre-ferment ( the poolish ) that I put together the night before and placed on my countertop. The pre-ferment gives the bread its flavor and helps out the texture. Using a pre-ferment gives you many of the benefits of a sourdough, but is a so much easier!

Oven Fresh Bread

Oven Fresh Homemade Bread

I again consulted my master artisan bread maker, Barry Harmon at Artisan Bread Baking, and decided to use the recipe for his standard Italian Boules. A boule, from the French for “ball”, is a traditional shape of French bread, but in this case I made it into Italian bread.  The original recipe called to use malt, but I could not source any malt in a hurry, so I just used sugar instead. This bread recipe took the better part of 4.5 hours to complete start to finish (not including the pre-ferment) and was so delicious that I nearly consumed one boule myself within a few hours of completion!

The finished product is a great accompaniment to any meal, although I would not really recommend it as sandwich bread due to its thick, deep crust.

The Finished Product
Fresh Italian Boules

Italian Boules



  • 200 g King Arthur Bread Flour
  • 200 g Water
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp.) Dry Active Yeast

Final Dough:

  • 890 g Bread Flour
  • 480 g Water
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp.) Dry Active Yeast
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp.) Salt
  • 225 ml (1/2 cup) Non-Fat Dry Milk
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp.) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp.) Sugar
  1. Make the poolish, cover it, and allow it to sit on the countertop for at least 24 hours at room temperature.


    The Poolish after 24 hours.

  2. After 24 hours put the poolish, water, sugar, yeast, oil, milk powder into the mixer bowl.
  3. Add half the flour and mix for two minutes using the paddle attachment.
  4. Switch to the dough hook and add the rest of the flour and mix for two minutes.
  5. Let dough rest, covered for 25 minutes (this is the autolyse).
  6. Add the salt and knead for 8 minutes.

    Post Kneading

    After Kneading, ready for first fermentation

  7. Cover and ferment for 1 hour.
  8. Perform a fold.

    First Fermentation

    After first fermentation

  9. Cover and ferment another hour.
  10. Perform a fold.

    Second Ferment

    After Second Fermentation

  11. Cover and ferment for 30 minutes.

    Final Fermentation

    After the Final Fermentation

  12. Shape into two equal loaves (mine was approx 880 grams each) place on parchment paper and rise for 50 minutes.

    Risen Boule

    Final Risen Boule

  13. Preheat the oven to 425F.

    The Oven

    My NON Commerical Oven with its $5 baking stone!

  14. Slash the loaves in three places across the top of each boule and place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  15. After 20 minutes, rotate the loaves to ensure equal baking and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 200F.
  16. For a deeper crust, turn of the oven and let the loaves sit in the cooling oven for 5 minutes.
The Crumb

The Crumb

8 Responses to “Italian Bread”

  1. Jessica | Oh Cake January 11, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    That looks crazy good. Really delicious. I am not a huge bread fan… unless it’s fresh homemade bread! Then I could eat an entire loaf.

    • cjdelgrosso January 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

      I agree with you Jessica, there is nothing like fresh homemade bread. Thanks for stopping by and reading, I really enjoy your blog as well!

  2. Kiri W. January 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Mmm, this looks like such a wonderful bread – I bet when it’s still warm you need nothing but some olive oil to dip and love 🙂

    • cjdelgrosso January 11, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

      Thanks Kiri, you are exactly right! My daughter and I just sliced it and ate it right up with some EVO.

  3. Sherry January 15, 2012 at 7:45 am #

    Looks so good, it is to late to make this right now… maybe tomorrow. Yum.

  4. chefeye March 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    Just loving the tiles in the oven, brilliant!!!

    what effect did they have on the bread?

    • cjdelgrosso March 14, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

      Wow! They are awesome because they only cost me 40 cents a piece! A baking stone can cost like $80! It makes they crust a bit more crisp and helps deepen it as well.

      • chefeye March 14, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

        just love it, so creative!!

        mind if I re post that one too?

        So I guess the tiles conduct a far greater heat through them onto the bread, hence the deeper crust? bet it does great pizzas too!

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