Pane casereccio (Homemade Bread)

Frankreference120 Comments

Pane casereccio (Homemade Bread)

I am not a baker. Never have been. I have always found stove-top cooking fun and easy but baking is a very different art. Cooking lets you stir and taste and adjust as you go along to get things to come out just right. But with baking—once you close that oven door, your success is in the hands of fate.

But I’ve recently changed my mind, at least when it comes to homemade bread. I was forced into it, in a way, by the indifferent quality of the bread that I can find where I am now living. Even at the ‘fancy’ supermarkets around, and even at the few remaining bakeries in my area, the bread is almost always disappointing—the crust isn’t crusty enough, the crumb too soft and bland and too ‘tight’ as well. What I have been looking for is that bread that I remember appearing on Angelina’s table, large round loaves that she would hold close to her chest and cut with a large knife. That bread was crusty and chewy and delicious, with big holes that were perfect for catching sauce when wiping up sauce on your plate (‘facendo la scarpetta‘ as the they say in Italian). I rediscovered that kind of bread  when I moved to Italy, where it is variously called pane casereccio or pane di casa or (especially in and around Naples) pane cafone. It was cheap and good and ubiquitous, one of the small but wonderful pleasures of Italian life.

When I moved back to the States, I was desperate to find something comparable. After looking around for at least a year, I realized that I might as well be looking for unicorns. The obvious solution was to do what more and more people are doing: make my own. Not being a natural baker, I was amazed that I could do it in the first place. In fact, turns out it is not all that hard to do, especially with the help of a standing mixer.

Over the past year or so, I’ve collected a number of books on bread baking. All of them teach you to make great homemade bread, but just this past Christmas I found gold. Some friends gave me My Bread, by Jim Lahey, founder of the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York. Lahey has developed an excellent, incredibly straight-forward no-knead bread recipe that that turns out a loaf as close to the pane casereccio as anything I’ve tasted since I left Italy.  It really could hardly be easier to pull off—all you need are the ingredients—flour, water, salt and yeast—a good cast-iron casserole and a bit of patience. Oh yes, and an oven. The ‘secret’ of this method lies in giving the dough a very slow initial rise, which eliminates the need for kneading, and the use of the cast-iron casserole or ‘Dutch oven‘, which you preheat in a hot oven to recreate conditions inside that Lahey says are similar to a bakery oven. I’m not expert, but I can say that the crust that forms in that environment is just wonderful.

Ingredients

For a medium loaf

  •  3 cups (375g) bread flour (or all purpose flour)
  • 1-1/2 cups (350ml) cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1g) dry yeast
  • A big pinch of salt, or to taste

Directions

Mix the dry ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer, using the paddle. Then add the water in a drizzle until a very stick dough has formed. If the dough seems dry, then add a bit more, a spoonful at a time. Take the bowl from the mixer and cover it with a towel and/or a plate and leave it in a warm (but not hot) place over night. Lahey recommends 18 hours (or at few as 12) but I’ve found that 24 hours produces an even better loaf. There’s no problem as long as you think just a little ahead and make mix the dough the day before and let it rise overnight.

[NB: No worries if you don’t have a standing mixer, you can just mix your dough in a normal bowl with a wooden spoon.]

Pane casereccio (Homemade Bread)

After this initial rise, the dough will have expanded, darkened in color and be spottled with ‘pock marks’ on its surface.

Now scrape the dough out of the bowl with a spatula or wooden spoon onto a lightly floured surface. You will notice that it will have a rather stringy consistency, which is just what you want: this shows how the slow rise has allowed gluten to form even without kneading.

Pane casereccio (Homemade Bread)

Flour your hands and form the mass of dough into a ball without kneading. Just sort of glance your hands over the surface of the dough, tucking it under itself to round it and smooth its surface. (NB: Use a minimum of flour both on the surface and on your hands, so you don’t incorporate too much into the dough. A wet dough is important to the rustic texture of the bread.)

Pane casereccio (Homemade Bread)

Then gingerly lay the dough on a lightly floured tea towel, then fold the ends of the towel on top of the dough. Let the bread rise again (this step is called ‘proofing’ by bakers) until it roughly doubles in size, which can take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. If you have the time, take the whole 2 hours.

About 30 minutes before the second rise is over, preheat your oven to 450F/230C. Put a 4-1/2 or 5-1/2 quart cast iron casserole (about 10″ in diameter) with its cover, in the oven to preheat along with the oven itself. This will act as an oven inside the oven: intensely hot and small enough that it retain the moist atmosphere that really excellent bread needs.

Now you’re ready to bake. This is the one tricky part of the recipe, and just a little dangerous as you’ll need to handle the very hot cast iron casserole. Make sure you have heavy oven mitts (it’ll be too hot for a towel) and proceed with care!

Take the casserole out of the oven using your oven mitt and lay it on a heat-resistant surface. (I use a a turkey carving board with spikes that hold the pot slightly above the surface.) Then remove the cover and lay it aside. Take the towel with the dough and quickly flip the dough into the casserole (it will go in ‘upside down’, which is fine). Shake the casserole, if need be, to center the dough and then quick re-cover it.

Put the casserole back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then take it out of the oven and remove the cover. The bread will be ever so slightly browned.

Pane casereccio (Homemade Bread)

Now put the casserole back into the oven, uncovered, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the bread has developed a beautiful golden brown crust.  Turn the bread out onto a cooling rack and leave it until it has completely cooled. (This cooling period is critical, as the crumb (ie, the ‘insides’ of the bread) will continue to cook; you may hear it ‘crackle’ as it does, which means it’s doing its job.

Pane casereccio (Homemade Bread)

When the bread has cooled completely, after about 45 minutes to an hour, it is ready to enjoy!

Notes on pane casereccio

The best flour for making homemade bread is, of course, bread flour. Bread flour has a high gluten (protein) content that produces a nice, firm crumb and crusty crust. These days, with so many people making their own bread, it is fairly easy to find in better supermarkets. It can also be ordered online. But if you like, you can also use all purpose flour; it works almost as well.

The precise amount of salt depends on your taste and the kind of bread you want to make. Tuscan bread is famously low or no-salt. In Italy, homemade bread is meant for eating with food, so it can (and should) be a little on the bland side. If you’d like bread more suitable for eating on its own, add more salt. You’ll need to use trial and error to get the results you like. For me, a big pinch (at least a tablespoon) give me the result I like.

As for the casserole, the usual brands, such as Le Creuset, Staub and Lodge, all make the kind of casserole you’ll need. Lahey says he likes Staub the best, and that’s the brand I use as well, but it’s an expensive solution (around $250). Le Creuset has one drawback, which is that the plastic knob on the cover is only guaranteed up to 375F, just under the temperature you need. And since constant baking an empty casserole at high temperatures will, over time, discolor whatever casserole you use, you may just want to opt for the economical choice: the Lodge, which costs only $30.

This recipe for homemade bread is an only slightly revised version of the basic no-knead bread recipe found in My Bread. I’ve upped the water content slightly (as I like a ‘holey’ crumb) and lengthened the initial rise even more, but otherwise this is his recipe. I heartily recommend you buy the book, which is filled with little tips and tricks on not mentioned here.

Post scriptum: You can make a wonderful whole-wheat loaf using the exact same recipe, except using 1 cup whole wheat and 2 cups white bread flour.

Whether whole wheat or not, with more bread-making experience,  I find I like to add more water than Jim’s recipe calls for, up to 2 cups. The resulting dough is very wet: too wet to handle with bare hands, but if you flour the surface and your hands well enough, it will work out fine. There’s a saying, the wetter the dough, the better the bread, and I totally agree! The crumb you get from a very wet dough is fantastically chewy and full of flavor.

Pane casereccio (Homemade Bread)

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 12 hours

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 12 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: One medium-sized loaf of bread

Pane casereccio (Homemade Bread)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (375g) bread flour (or all purpose flour)
  • 1-1/2 cups (350ml) cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1g) dry yeast
  • A big pinch of salt, at least 1 Tbs

Directions

  1. Mix the dry ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer, using the paddle. Then add the water in a drizzle until a very stick dough has formed. If the dough seems dry, then add a bit more, a spoonful at a time. Take the bowl from the mixer and cover it with a towel and/or a plate and leave it in a warm (but not hot) place over night. [NB: No worries if you don't have a standing mixer, you can just mix your dough in a normal bowl with a wooden spoon.]
  2. Scrape the dough out of the bowl with a spatula or wooden spoon onto a lightly floured surface. Flour your hands and form the mass of dough into a ball without kneading. Gingerly lay the dough on a lightly floured tea towel, then fold the ends of the towel on top of the dough. Let the bread rise again until it roughly doubles in size, which can take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours.
  3. About 30 minutes before the second rise is over, preheat your oven to 450F/230C. Put a 4-1/2 or 5-1/2 quart cast iron casserole (about 10" in diameter) with its cover, in the oven to preheat along with the oven itself.
  4. NB: For the next step: Make sure you have heavy oven mitts (it'll be too hot for a towel) and proceed with care!
  5. Take the casserole out of the oven using your oven mitt and lay it on a heat-resistant surface. Remove the cover and lay it aside. Take the towel with the dough and quickly flip the dough into the casserole (it will go in 'upside down', which is fine). Shake the casserole, if need be, to center the dough and then quick re-cover it.
  6. Put the casserole back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then take it out of the oven and remove the cover. (The bread will be ever so slightly browned.)
  7. Put the casserole back into the oven, uncovered, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the bread has developed a beautiful golden brown crust. Turn the bread out onto a cooling rack and leave it until it has completely cooled.
  8. When the bread has cooled completely, after about 45 minutes to an hour, it is ready to enjoy!
https://memoriediangelina.com/2012/01/08/pane-casereccio-homemade-bread/

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120 Comments on “Pane casereccio (Homemade Bread)”

  1. Loved, loved this bread. Reminded me of baguette. Crusty on the outside, chewy, with big holes on the inside. Family snarfed in up. I left it rise the full 24 hours and baked in a dutch oven. Wonderful, low time commitment, family bread. Thank you.

    1. You’re welcome! Although all credit really goes to Jim Lahey. Baking this bread has become a weekly ritual in our house.

  2. Hey Frank, I made your Pane casereccio and the taste was very good!! However the bottom was burnt. In the instructions above it states to cook at 450F but if you select the “print recipe” it states 400F. I would assume the 450F is correct? Maybe my oven is a little hotter and I just need to do first cook at maybe 25 minutes.

    Thanks,
    Ron

    1. Well I upped the temperature but forgot to fix it both places. Either temperature will work, so long as you heat the Dutch oven well. It’s just that I found that I liked the results better at the higher temperature, although mine too, can burn (just a bit) on the bottom sometimes. Doesn’t bother me, but you could opt for 400 if you don’t like the results.

  3. Hi, Frank. Hope you are doing well. I was wondering if I could use a glass Corning Casserole for this recipe, or do you think I should use my Dutch Oven instead. Thanks!

    1. I’d use the Dutch oven. I don’t have a glass casserole so I can’t really say for sure, but I wonder if it would retain the heat as well as the Dutch oven. Or keep the seal you need to maintain moisture.

  4. In this posting of the bread recipe, one place says to heat the oven to 400 and another says 450. Which is correct? I’m anxious to try the recipe!

    1. Thanks for the catch! 450 is better although the recipe will work at either temperature. Over time I found that I got a bit better result at the higher temp but forgot to update both instances where I mention it…

  5. I love to make bread and especially now during lockdown is an activity that the whole family regularly does. My recipe calls for more flour with the same amount of water. Perhaps the bread flour in the States is different than here. Thanks for sharing a tasty collection of comfort foods. Stay healthy. Happy cooking, Paola

    1. Absolutely! And I understand a cloche actually makes the process easier. I’ve been meaning to buy a cloche myself and blog about it, but just haven’t had the opportunity. This version has caught on, I suspect, because many people have a Dutch oven while a cloche is a “specialty” item. But if you have one, enjoy it!

  6. This Recipe is easy and makes fantastic bread ! Next time I would add a bit more salt but it’s perfect ! My kids ate three quarters of the loaf to themselves !! Thanks for sharing

  7. Frank,anxious to give it a try as great bread makes the meal .I have a lodge cast iron casserole -NOT enamel- it is “seasoned” with natural oil residues and I am wondering about whether I would need to introduce any additional oil when preheating or just go with the cast iron, “as-is” ?.BTW,enjoying Grandma’s sweet taralli recipe; exceptionally close to our recipe from Gruma Appula .
    Matthew Casamassima

    1. I think you’d be fine with naturally seasoned cast iron. Do make sure the dough itself is dusted with flour and you should be good to go.

      Thanks for the comment on the sweet taralli recipe. And by the way, my family too has roots in Grumo Appula! My paternal grandfather, Angelina’s husband, was from there. Small world!

  8. I have been playing around with this recipe for a few weeks now and love it, do it in a cast iron lodge dutch oven and it comes out great every time. The problem is it goes way too fast… can I double the recipe and just cook longer?

  9. Dear Frank,
    Please, could you give me the measurements in metric system?
    I would like to make at home your delicious Schiacciata all’uva. 🙂
    Thanks,
    Sílvia.

  10. Hi have made this bread three times and each time it has turned out wonderfully. thanks for sharing this wonderful bread recipe.

  11. Frank and others: will a ceramic covered cast iron Dutch oven work as well as a regular, unenameled one? If I buy an enameled dutch oven, would it also be good for sauce?

    1. Sure, it works fine. In fact, I’ve used one for making bread. The only problem is that, at least in my case, the enameling discolored from the intense heat. The pot still works fine, however.

  12. Well, I tried this loaf and something went dreadfully wrong. The overnight rise was beautiful – it literally filled the bowl from my stand mixer – I left the bowl in the microwave.

    When i went to shape it and turn it out, however, it had fully deflated and was almost runny. I put it on a sheet of parchment paper and the dough basically oozed to the edges like water seeking its level. Small and insignificant second rise.

    After 2 hours, I scraped from the parc?hment/poured the dough into my dutch oven. I did get some lift in the oven and had a good crust and some air holes, but nothing like the picture. The flavor of the bread, however, was rather bland even with the extra salt used (a really big pinch).

    My measurements were careful, and I did use bread flour.

    Any thoughts on where I went wrong in order to avoid this runny dough a second time? Based on my poor result (pour results?), this might be a winner if I can get it right.

    Andrew

    1. Andrew, Sorry about your experience! Hmmm… hard to say exactly what might have gone wrong, especially since I’m by no means an expert baker, but a few thoughts:

      Actually, the way you describe the dough behaving sounds right up to a point. It should indeed “ooze” after that first rise. You might want to add a bit less water next time if it is as runny as you describe, and/or add more flour when you shape the loaf into a ball. For the second rise, make sure it’s wrapped in a towel or otherwise enclosed (in a covered bowl, for example) so it keeps its shape. It won’t tend to rise laid out on a flat surface. For good lift in the oven, make sure that the Dutch oven is really hot and make sure the cover is on tightly.

      On the flavor: To begin, this bread is supposed to be mildly flavored. Italian bread is made to accompany food, so it isn’t meant to have an intense flavor of its own. Having said that, if the bread is truly insipid, I’d try adding more salt. Another way to boost flavor is to extend the first rise, up to 24 hours. The longer the dough sits and ferments, the more flavor it will develop. To a point, that is. Too much fermentation and you begin to enter sourdough territory.

      Hope you get better results next time!

  13. So this was my first attempt at a recipe on the site. I tried, unsuccessfully, to paste a picture of the result. I was pretty happy with it and so were my wife and special guest–my old boss. This was part of a complete menu mostly based on this site including the brasato al vino rosso, which had a great taste. Time to try a few more recipes…

    1. Wow, that’s wonderful Ray. So glad you guys are enjoying—and cooking from—the site. For me, that’s what it’s all about. 🙂

  14. What do you mean by “Gingerly lay the dough on a lightly floured tea towel”,
    Sorry it’s the first time I’m making bread. Also, would a bread oven work?

  15. Hi Frank, first time I venture into homemade bread and when I saw your recipe, I had to try it…OMG the results are exactly as you describe. This recipe is a keeper for me. I will try the whole wheat version as well..

    Thank you sooo much for sharing and I love your website..

    Big fan!!
    Anna

  16. Aldi’s sells a bread like this – huge, crusty, big holes and delicious, pre-sliced, for less than $4. If my memory is correct, it’s imported from Italy. You might have to try a couple of different Aldi’s at different times though to get it. It freezes well.

    1. The bread you mentioned from Aldi’s is named Turano, which is baked in Chicago IL. I spoke to the
      manager of my local Aldi store. He said the bread is sent frozen to the store. The bread is made with no salt. This type of bread is eaten in Italy with heavily flavored food and cheese, and it is felt the need for salt is not important.

  17. I am from La Pulgia (Taranto). At our last B.B.Q. I ask a friend who is a pastry chef to find me a recipe. It was raining on Saturday so I decided to look up the recipe myself. I came upon yours……I cannot tell you how happy this made me. Thank you so much for this. I feel that I’m home again. Just one question which I will be able to answer myself as I’m making another one tonight. If I leave it longer then the 15 minutes as the recipe calls for would it become darker?
    Thanks again for this!

    1. Thanks for your kind comment, Tina! I’m so glad you found the recipe useful. And yes, if you leave the bread in the oven uncovered a bit longer, the crust will darken. I sometimes leave it in longer myself if I feel like a darker crust. Happy cooking! Frank

    2. Hello Frank,

      Just an update I make this bread almost on a monthly basis. I made it for Easter and Greekster (as my daughter has married a Greek gentlemen) it was such a hit. I would like to make sourdough bread. Reading your followers comments you mention that if you leave it longer is will become sourdough bread. Any idea how much longer? Should I be looking up a sourdough bread recipe instead?

      Cheers

      1. I’ve never actually tried it, but this recipe says 48 hours… You make a sour dough starter with 2 cups flour, then mix is with more flour and water to make your bread.

  18. I followed this recipe to the letter, but it is flavorless. It came out beautiful, just like the picture; the texture was great, the crust crispy, but no flavor. Should I add more salt?

    1. Val,

      There are two ways you could up the flavor profile. First, and easiest, as Patrizia points out, add more salt. (I’ve got big hands, so my pinch might be two pinches for you… 😉 ) Second, leave the bread to ferment longer. As mentioned, in my own experience the longer the rest, the better the flavor. At least up to a point, which brings me to a more general observation: In Italian culinary culture, the primary role of bread is to accompany food. There is a long tradition of “fare la scarpetta” or using your bread to sop up juices and sauces. So you actually don’t want your bread itself to be *too* flavorful. Sourdough bread, for example, is not a thing in Italy, and I have Italian friends who have come to North America and really dislike it. The Tuscans take this to the logical extreme. They don’t add any salt to their bread, and it is quite bland indeed. Again, the thinking is that they don’t want the bread to interfere with the taste of the food.

      Anyway, hope this helps!

      Best,
      Frank

  19. Frank: I use the Lahey method as well with fantastic results. I, like you, like my bread with more air holes, so I too add more water, and rise 2-3 hours which makes a more sticky, but airier dough. I also modified his method and do not use the kitchen towel “flip” into the pot. Instead what I do is after the second rise I reform the dough very gently on a floured cutting board into a round, by folding it under itself (like mozzarella cheese makers do). I then place the dough round on a pre-cut round of parchment paper which enables me to pick up the whole thing and neatly drop it in the pot.

    It wont burn, doesn’t effect the bake or the crust and peels right off of the bread, while it easily slides out when done because it rides on the parchment.

    1. I’ll have to try it that way next time I make a loaf. Sounds like a good way to make sure the loaf is well formed every time.

  20. Super happy that I found your recipe! This is probably one of my favorite types of bread and reminds my of Arthur Ave in the Bronx. Currently, I have a loaf in the oven. I don’t have a dutch oven at the moment, just a pizza stone. When I flopped the dough onto it, it stuck and stretched a bit and really didn’t hold it’s shape. Is there a trick to having the dough keep it’s shape?

  21. Frank, I haven’t tried this recipe but I wanted to mention that folks with a Le Creuset dutch oven can buy a metal replacement knob ($15.00) that will take the higher temperatures. Another alternative is Emile Henry Bread Crock which is around 100 dollars and is specifically crafted for bread. I have a Staub and Le Creuset dutch oven and I love them both, but I will spring for the Emile Henry crock someday.

  22. I am confused.You write in article 12 hours for rising, and below the article just 1-2 hours. Yeast is dry or fresh? I usually add around 10g of yeast for 3cups of flour, I am afraid 1/4 teaspoon its not enough. Is it?
    Thank you!

    1. There are two risings, a long one after the dough is mixed, and a short one after the dough is formed into a ball. And the small amount of (dry) yeast will do just fine—the long initial rise gives the yeast time to grow. Larger amounts of yeast are only needed for the short-rise, kneaded breads.

  23. I just love this bread so much, even if it is always a bit different every time i do it 🙂
    I just seem to have a problem that it will not rise much at all on the second proofing?
    I treat it gentle but should i knead bit to activate the yeast again??

    your help would be appreciated so i can finally Crack it >…

    1. Geoff, thanks for your comment. My bread turns out a bit different every time, too. To me, that’s just fine. It’s something I like about home cooking—it’s more of an art than a science. No one’s version of a dish tastes quite the same, even if they follow the same recipe, and no dish turns out exactly as it did before, even for the same cook.

      On your question regarding the second proof, my dough usually doesn’t rise dramatically, either, on the second go-round. In fact, I never have the patience to wait until it’s literally doubled in volume—I usually give it an hour and pop it in the oven no matter what. Again, for me, that’s no problem. The bread will rise quite a bit while it bakes, assuming that the environment inside the Dutch oven is hot enough. The crumb turns out just the way I like it, as pictured.

    2. Hello Geoff
      The less you handle the dough the better, don’t knead it or you will get all the air out of it.
      It will become too hard and heavy.

  24. Hello
    I think you need to use a heavy lid when making this bread.
    It needs to be sealed so the heat inside the pot stays moist.
    It’s like an oven in an oven.
    Patrizia

  25. Hiya, I have just come back from Italy and are eager to try this recipe! I have made up the mixture so will bake tomorrow, but discovered that none of my casserole dishes have lids! Is there anyway to do this without a lid? I don’t want to buy a new casserole dish if I don’t have to!

    Thanks, Rosie

    1. I’ve never tried this method without the lid, but I’m fairly sure that the lid is essential. The point is to create a super-hot and humid environment inside the pot, and without a lid, that wouldn’t happen.

    2. Rosie – you could try covering the casserole – tightly – with aluminum foil, then putting an oven-proof skillet on top. I’m thinking, if you have one, a cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, then a regular metal (oven-proof) skillet placed over the tightly aluminum covered casserole would probably do the trick. What do you think Frank? ++ A Maltese follower of my blog told me she believes this bread to be the inspiration for Maltese ‘Hobz’. It sure does look like it. Great recipe – I just started following you !! ; o )

      1. Welcome, Cecile! I guess that improvising with a skillet as a lid would do the trick, although I’d be worried if it didn’t fit snugly… those guys get really, really hot! But I also get not wanting to spend the money on another Dutch oven/casserole. Funny, the Lodge cast iron Dutch ovens, which are perfect for the job, used to be really cheap. Their prices have unfortunately gone up quite a bit—but still a lot less expensive than the alternatives.

  26. I just found this site and love all the recipes of foods I grew up eating. I do cook and bake breads also. I’ve been making this bread and variations of it along with rolls for over 5 years, since Nov 2008. Lacey along with Mark Bitman put this method on YouTube in 2006.

    1. Sorry, I meant Lahey. We love this bread. When I was a kid growing up in Newark, NJ, I use to go to the Italian Bakery for Grandma. We called this “panelle”. She would be cooking her “gravy” and when I came back from the bakery, she would slice the bread and pour gravy on it for me. We like this especially for eggplant parm sandwiches.

    1. Since starting to bake breads, especially the no knead method, I find using instant dry yeast works better for me than just dry yeast. Instant does not need to be proofed. I get it at Sam’s Club as Costco only has the dry yeast, not instant. I keep it in the freezer and it keeps forever.

      I also use another no knead method called Artisan Bread in 5. That uses more yeast, but I use that method when using dairy since I do not like leaving dairy on the counter for any length of time.

  27. Epic fail today on my first attempt – I’m newer to bread but have been having good luck and wanted to find a recipe similar to Turano Pane. This looked good. put everything together yesterday and put it in my oven to rise with the oven light on since my house is a little cold. This morning there was a crust on top of the dough that I picked off to try and save the dough – then the dough was way to wet and hard to do anything with and stuck to everything and in the end I had to toss it. Going to try again today and see how it works tomorrow. Probably won’t turn the oven light on this time! Here we go again!

    1. Sorry to hear about your experience, Tony! The good thing about this method is that you don’t need a warm environment for the yeast to do its work, given the very long initial rise. Another tip: if you’re dough is forming a crust as it rises, it may be a sign that you should cover the bowl in which it is resting more tightly. I use a plate on top of a towel (as illustrated) to make sure there’s a good seal on the bowl. Better luck next time!

    2. As I mentioned, I’ve been making this method a few years now and always with excellent results. You have to follow the instructions for this method as frank mentioned. After mixing, I spray it with Pam and cover with plastic wrap or a shower cap. Only goes on the counter, 12 to 24 hrs, no warm or oven needed. When you dun pit out, use extra flour and dough scrapers to fold the dough as it’s too wet to handle. For the second 2 hr rise, I found something online, letting it proof in a 8″ non stick sauté pan. Than it’s easy to dump in the cast iron Dutch oven. There’s a lot on YouTube about this. Good Luck. Any questions I’d be glad to help. I would post pics of my bread on here, but not sure how.

  28. I am making my first attempt at any bread making with this recipe! It is one the second rise as I write this and I am so nervous!! lol Wish me luck!

  29. Oh my! That bread caught my attention from the thumbnail picture. It looks great and I can only imagine how it smells and tastes. =)

  30. Ciao, Frank!
    I am an italian student in school, and my teacher decided to do a cooking project… hopefully I manage not to burn down my house, ha ha. Anyway, I had a few questions concerning the bread.
    1) Is it made in cast-iron because of flavor or because it’s just a good baking casserole?
    2) If I slice the bread before going to school, since the entire class has to eat it (making it as humiliating as possible if I mess up…) will it effect the bread’s flavor/texture?
    3) after it’s been sliced, how do you recommend storing it?

    Thanks!
    Daniela

    1. Ciao, Daniela!

      The casserole serves to mimic the environment of a super-hot, humid bread oven at home. Some people use pyrex, I understand. Terracotta might work as well—I believe that there is a pugliese bread they make that way—but you’d need to lower the heat a bit, I imagine, to avoid damaging the vessel. The point is to create a very hot and somewhat humid environment, which is ideal for bread baking.

      Slicing the bread will alter its texture, but probably not enough to be noticeable if the bread is to be served within a few hours. Just make sure to wrap the bread loosely in wax paper or a cloth towel, so it won’t dry out too much. Ditto for storing the bread after that.

      Good luck, Daniela!

      Cheers,
      Frank

    2. Hi Daniela, I just wanted to add onto what Frank was saying. I’m a baking and pastry student.

      Because this bread is made using a lean dough with a relatively high moisture content and no preservatives, it will not keep well. Even overnight will stale it out some. It might not be the best bread to bake for school unless you don’t mind getting up reeeealllly early.

      Also, whatever you do, do not slice this bread while it is hot. Let it cool completely before slicing. Noy only is eating very warm bread bad for your digestion, it will also damage the structure of the bread.

  31. Hi! This is one of my favorite bread recipes and I’ve made it in a Pyrex covered baker — comes out great every time. I’ve followed the original recipe I found a while ago but l loved your suggestion of adding more water for better crumb. One of the most versatile basic recipes — works well with olives, prosciutto, sundried tomatoes — comes out delicious every time. My family demands it every weekend now. Grazie mille!

    1. You’re welcome, Julia! Although I can’t really take credit—it’s Jim Lahey’s recipe except for the extra water and one or two other tips I found useful. Glad you’re enjoying the bread!

  32. Frank I have made your recipe for this bread several times & it always comes out great. I purchased a Lodge cast iron, the good ole black one, like my cast iron skillet. As I have learned to do, I keep it well oiled with olive oil to avoid the rust that cast iron can get if it gets wet or when it is washed. I actually made a rosemary bread using your recipe & just added the dried rosemary when I mixed the dry ingredients. BTW, I made your Eggplant Parmagian last night, which I have done before, but this time I sauteed some shrimp, crab meat, onions, red bell pepper, and added it to the layers. It was great. Thanks Frank. You are my go to guy for Italian cooking. I always give you the credit when friends rave about my Italian dishes.

  33. Frank, what an amazing looking crust and crumb. And I know what you mean about missing Italian breads. One of the things I miss the very most!!!

  34. Frank. I finally tried baking a loaf. I was agonizing as we don’t have a casserole anymore and I couldn’t find our Dutch Oven. However, in my searches I found our clay cooker which I discovered, quite by accident, looks like a cloche – a French device for baking. It worked quite well although I still had a tough time flipping the dough into it despite the low sides. The loaf reminded me of those we used to get at Madonia’s on Arthur Avenue

  35. Dear Angelina
    I am new to your site and would like to try your Gelato and your bread, but I cannot print a readable recipe. I am in Sydney, Australia and wonder if language is the problem. Please advise.
    Kind regards
    Annie

  36. I have 11 minutes before the final product comes out of the oven. So far so good! I've been devouring your website and love it. Thank you!

  37. Hi Frank, tried this yesterday and the bread turned out superb, next time a little more salt but I suppose that's all down to individual taste. Thanks for the recipe!

  38. Hi Frank, tried this yesterday and the bread turned out to be superb, next time a little more salt but I suppose that's all down to taste. Many thanks for this receipe.

  39. Hi Frank. Glad that you liked the cookbook. I made a loaf of “Pan co'santi” yesterday, and this morning, I made French toast. I made a slight variation, since we had dried cranberries on hand. Right now I have a loaf of rye rising. I have done the rye before, and this time I added some dried caraway seed. Enjoy your bread.

  40. The bread I made was OK, but the outside was much paler than this picture, and hard rather than crusty. I think I need an oven thermometre to check if it's actually 400 when it says it.

  41. I bought a Lodge, a glove, and a sack of King Arthur flour. I plan to try it this weekend. I have several Le Cruesets but I don't want to wreck them. I've tried making bread before and it has consistently failed. So we shall see.