Tuscan Artisan Bread

Yield: 1 loaf

The primary difference between breads made in Tuscany and those made in other parts of Italy is that the Tuscans tend not to salt their bread. As a result, the flavor is often bland. Serve this bread with a salty sauce like a tapanade or a bagna cauda to make the most out of it.

The other cool thing about traditional Tuscan bread is that it uses a unique technique of cooking a portion of the flour in advance. This creates a smooth texture and a distinctive taste unique to the bread. Try it and see.

“Starter”

1 cup boiling water
1 cup all-purpose flour

Combine the flour and the water and stir until smooth. Cool completely, cover, and let sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours.

Bread

Flour paste +
cup water, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir until the dough comes together in a ragged ball. Fit the mixer with the dough hook attachment and knead on medium until the dough is smooth, shiny and elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit to rise, approximately 1 to 2 hours.

When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a boule (ball), place on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap to proof. Preheat the oven to 450F.

When the dough has doubled in size, score decoratively if desired and place in the oven. Bake until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom, approximately 30 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

Store the bread at room temperature in a paper bag or wrapped in parchment paper. If storing for longer than 2 days, tightly wrap in plastic and freeze. Bread should be thawed at room temperature.