For this recipe you don’t need to preheat the oven. Once you put the pot in, you turn the oven on to full heat and let the delightful smell fill your home.

Makes
1

Preparation

10min

Cooking

50min

Skill level

Easy
By
Average: 3.3 (434 votes)
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Ingredients

  • ½ tsp dried yeast
  • 550 g strong plain or “ 00 ” flour
  • 50 g semola (finely-ground semolina), plus extra for dusting
  • 1-1½ tbsp salt

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

You will need to begin this recipe 1 day in advance. 

Standing time: overnight

The following recipe has been edited and may differ slightly from the video.

1. Place the yeast and 500 ml (2 cups) water in a jug and stir to dissolve. Place the flours in a large bowl. Add the yeasted water and mix to combine. Add the salt and mix through roughly (use a spoon or a chopstick). Cover and allow to prove at room temperature for 12-18 hours (depending on the climate) or until doubled in size. If it’s really hot, try to find a cooler spot in the house, otherwise it will rise too fast and you’ll miss out on the fermented flavour. I normally start this process at night before bed and bake the next day.

2. Lift the risen dough out of the bowl and onto a floured bench. Give it a quick knead to bring it together. Stretch into a rectangle, then fold the dough onto itself in a ball. Place the dough, seam-side down in a cast iron pot lined with baking paper and dust the top with semola. Cover with a lid and stand at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until risen by two thirds.

3. To test if the dough is ready, poke it gently with a finger. If the indent is deep and doesn’t spring back at all, it has risen too much. You can still bake it but handle it with care or it will deflate. Don’t score an over proved dough. If it springs back straight away it needs a little longer. If the finger leaves a little indent but the dough almost completely springs back, then it’s ready to bake.

4. Sprinkle the top with semola, slash with a blade or a knife (this will encourage the bread to bloom and cook evenly) and put the lid back on (make sure there are no plastic parts!). Place the pot into the oven and turn on to 250°C. Bake for 40 minutes, then using oven mitts, remove the lid. You will see that the bread has puffed up and developed a nice crust, but is still pale in colour. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the bread has a burnt caramel colour. Remove the pot from the oven, tip the bread onto a wire rack (remove the baking paper if still attached) and cool for at least 1 hour before slicing. The crumb keeps cooking while the bread is cooling down and cutting into hot bread will interfere this important step.

 

Silvia Colloca shares her Italian family secrets in the brand-new series, Cook like an Italian.