Pagnotta Country Bread

Yield: 4 – 6″ rounds or 2 – 12″ rounds

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water 105 degrees

7 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt

2 3/4 cups  cool water
1-2 tablespoons of Olive Oil, good green tasty kind.

3/4 cup biga; see recipe below

Mix yeast with warm water and let sit till creamy, about 15 minutes.
Measure flour into bowl, stir in salt, then add yeast mix, cool water, and biga. 

Mix until thoroughly combined like below, it will be wet and sticky.

Now the kneading begins. This will take 15 to 20 minutes, with 1 minute breaks every 5 minutes. On a well floured sturdy surface, start to knead the ball of dough. Pushing the heal of your hand in the center of the dough and turning it into itself. Keep your hands floured and add more flour to prevent sticking to the kneading surface. You’re looking for stretchy, smooth non sticky dough when finished. These pictures show the process and how the dough should appear and feel.

Shape into a ball, place in bowl with olive oil and cover with a towel, and let rise till doubled, about
1 1/2 hours. 

Punch down, fold edges into the middle to make a ball again, cover then let rise again till doubled (about an hour).
Divide the dough into 2 or 4, tucking it under into the middle form each into a round or oval shape, place on well floured cutting board.

 Preheat the oven to 425, with baking stones inside if you have them. These are uncoated quarry tiles we got at a tile store for about $1 each. Way cheaper than the fancy bread stones at Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table. This way you can buy what you need to fit your oven, to create a big flat baking surface for lots of  bread.

Let dough rise 45 minutes or so, till the dough springs back slowly when indented with a finger. Mist the oven with a spray bottle containing water. Cornmeal the peel. Put the bread in, flipping the loaf over onto the peel. Then mist again. 

After 5 minutes mist one more time, and reduce the oven to 400 degrees. Bake another 30 minutes or so, till done. The bottom should have good hollow sound to it and a dark crust. Let cool a bit, then go at it !! There is pretty much nothing better than warm bread right out of the oven. Here’s a goofy picture of me and my bread, it was yummy.

It’s not hard to make bread, it is time consuming with all the rising. This bread freezes well and you can shape it however you like, rolls, baguettes or rounds.

This recipe came from the Il Fornaio Baking Book, it’s a great bread book, get it if you want go further with bread. The Olive Bread is delish !


  • 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water 105 degrees
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water

  • Directions

Place the warm water in a small bowl, and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let stand until yeast has dissolved and is foamy, about 15 minutes. Measureflour into a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and pour in the yeast mixture and cold water. Use a sturdy spoon to mix it together until sticky and difficult to stir, but nevertheless thoroughly combined. Cover and allow to ferment for 24 hours in the refrigerator before using. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To use, rinse a measuring cup in cool water, scoop out the amount of starter needed, and bring to room temperature.

I will mix the Biga and let it ferment for a week, then I portion it out and freeze it.

6 thoughts on “Pagnotta Country Bread

  1. Pam

    >I want pie!!! We don't celebrate Thanksgiving at our house. Instead, we call it "Pie Day", and believe me, we are all very thankful just the same. When we were kids our parents would take us to Knott's Berry Farm, and we'd always eat at the Chicken Dinner restaurant. Desert was always boysenberry ice cream and rhubarb pie. As disgusting as that sounded to a 10 year old way back then, I did try it, and it was really good. Sarah, have you ever made rhubarb pie???

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