This is cheap, fast (in bread terms), easy and you can eat it in a couple of hours. This is old school, no bells, whistles, just good, real, bread.
I use the kitchen aid, but you can do it by hand
TRACY'S OLD SCHOOL ITALIAN LOAF
4 cups a/p flour
1 1/2 tsp yeast
2 cups VERY warm water with 2 tsp of salt dissolved in.
Mix all ingredients to a wet but smooth dough.
Transfer to an oiled bucket with a lid.
Leave to rise till at least doubled.
Gently tip onto a heavily floured cloth, use the cloth to roll the dough into a rough log.
Transfer loaf to a parchment lined sheetpan, cover with a floured cloth, let rest
Leave to rise while oven preheats to 500 with a large container of hot water on the bottom shelf.
When the oven is hot an the loaf poofy (technical term) put it in the hot, steamy oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 400 and cook till it's done, maybe another 20? It should sound hollow on the bottom when you knock on it.
Transfer to a rack to cool till you can't stand it any more.
INSTRUCTIONS AND PLAY BY PLAY PICTURES
Drop the flour and yeast in a bowl, mix it up, add the salt water. With dough hook set on 4 or so, let it go.....
nope, nope, nope, not yet, nope
YES! Smooth. It took 7 minutes. Transfer into a lidded bucket. Yes, I put it in the small one by mistake and transferred it to my 4qt :) Pop the lid on and leave it till it doubles. I'll take a pic at 30 and 60, if it takes that long.
Ok, this is at 30 and 50 mins...that's doubled so tip it out onto a floured cloth. This is my linen bakers cloth, I make them, I sell them, I love them
Tip the dough out, look how alive it is! Fantastic! Dust lightly with flour and fold the bottom up, the top down, stretching a bit, gently.
Pull the sides up and over. This is hard with one hand! so I could take pictures. Start to roll and pinch out the biggest bubbles on the rolled edge.
Ok, now roll it into a loaf
Ah, preheat the oven to 500 with a pan of water in there. When the oven is hot and the loaf has poofed up (technical cooking term!) then transfer the loaf to a parchment lined baking sheet and get it into the oven,
Here's the final shots. Oh, poofy! I rolled it gently on the sheet pan and into the oven. 500 degrees for 10 minutes, rotate the pan and reduce the temp to 450 for another 18. I cooked it in the top third with a huge pan of water under neath it.
and so here we are... giant and cooked and crusty and crunchy... it's snap crackling and popping as it cools. This is the worst time for me - the wait - oh the horror - I want to rip it open and eat it like a caveman!!!
I'll publish this now because there's people waiting BUT I'll add pics when I cut into it.
This is a really good, solid, classic, old school, flavorful, REAL, bread. Make it, enjoy it and make it again.
I cut in... joyful
I have to go eat it now, all of it :)