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Italian Hearth Bread by King Arthur Flour

Instructions

  1. Manual/Mixer Method:In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dough ingredients, mixing till the dough begins to come away from the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough with an electric mixer for 2 minutes; allow it to rest for 15 minutes, then continue kneading it for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, or until it's smooth. Add additional water or flour if needed - the dough should be somewhat sticky. If you're kneading by hand, transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface; knead it for 3 minutes; allow it to rest for 15 minutes, then continue kneading till smooth, an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise for 1 hour; it should just about double in bulk.
  2. Lightly grease the bottom part of your covered baker and sprinkle it with cornmeal or semolina. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and form it into a smooth, 13-inch log. Place the dough in the pan, cover the pan with its lid, and let the dough rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check it occasionally to see where it's at; when ready to bake, it should have started to fill the pan side to side, and crowned about 1" over the rim. When it's risen as much as you like, take a very sharp serrated knife and make three diagonal, 1/2"-deep cuts in the loaf.
  3. Place the pan in a cold oven, and set the oven temperature to 425°F. Bake the bread for 30 minutes. Remove the lid from the pan, and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and its interior temperature measures 190°F on an instant-read thermometer. The bread will bake for a total of about 35 to 40 minutes, starting in a cold oven. However, if your oven preheats slowly, you may find it necessary to allow the bread to bake an additional 10 minutes or so, beyond the suggested 5 to 10 minutes with the lid off.
  4. Remove the bread from the pan, and allow it to cool on a rack. Note: For the crispiest crust, turn the oven off, place the loaf on the middle oven rack, crack the oven door open a couple of inches, and allow the bread to cool in the oven.