A bread recipe I found recently from the region of Puglia in Italy where the flavor, texture and look of this bread is coveted and honored by locals and tourists alike. Simplicity of bread baking at its best in this authentic recipe. —cucina di mammina
Using a large wooden or stone cutting board, form all the flour into a volcano like shape in the center. Make a space or “well” in the center of the flour.
Add the yeast and warm water in the center and mix with a fork until yeast begins to foam a bit. Start forming the dough by mixing the flour with the liquid with your hands or a fork; mix in the salt during this process and continue mixing for about 15 to 20 minutes until a soft dough forms.
Lightly add flour as needed and form the dough into a soft round. Lightly oil a large deep bowl and place the dough in and cover with a clean tea towel and set aside to proof (rise) for at least three hours.
Once the dough has risen remove from the bowl and on the board, dust lightly with flour and knead the dough for about 5 minutes or so until soft and smooth. Let this rest for 10 minutes, covered.
At the finish of the second proof (rise), make a rectangular form of the dough and make it round by rolling it onto itself with the edge on the side of the form.
Place on a well greased large baking sheet; using a serrated knife cut slits or the custom cross shape from end to end then dust the top liberally with flour and set aside to rest for a minute or two; covered
Place the rested dough into a pre-heated 480 degree oven on the center rack and bake for approximately 40 minutes
Do not open the door as the heat needs to remain consistent and the aroma will draw you back often, but don’t be tempted
This is wonderful for morning breakfast (colazione) with butter, honey or marmalade as well as for all other meals.