Rustic Tuscan Bread

Tuscan Bread
Tuscan LoafThis classic bread from Tuscany, which requires three rises, including one rather long rise, is a labor of love. But as with all things you love, it is well worth the labor.

One distinctive feature of this bread is that it is saltless, which makes it ideal for dunking into flavorful sauces like, say, a pesto. I adapted the recipe from the Joy of Cooking, which says that this bread is also great for bruschetta. And with its crusty, crunchy crust and pillow-soft, airy crumb, it is easy to see that it would be.

I’d advise starting on this bread the evening before if you plan to have it for lunch the next day, or rather early in the morning if you want it in time for dinner.

This Tuscan loaf goes out to my It’s A Vegan World: Italian event. I’ve got some lovely entries from you folks, but am still hoping more of you will pitch in. I think for many, the idea of Italian food without cheese is a challenge. But it really is not that hard, and here’s your chance to flex that creativity: I know all of you have plenty of it!


Rustic Tuscan Bread
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 12
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2¾ cup bread flour
  • 1 to 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  1. Mix the whole wheat flour, ¾th of a cup of bread flour, yeast and water in a large bowl by hand or in a stand mixer. Set aside to rise about 8 hours.
  2. Add 2 cups of bread flour and first one cup of all-purpose flour and more if needed.
  3. Add olive oil.
  4. Knead by hand about 15 minutes, or with the dough hook set to medium speed, about 8 minutes. The dough will be smooth but still rather sticky.
  5. Place the dough in an oil-coated bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and set aside for 2 hours or until it’s doubled.
  6. Lightly oil a baking sheet and cover it with some cornmeal (I used some rava, which is coarsely ground rice, because I didn’t have any cornmeal on hand).
  7. Punch down the dough and shape it into a round by pulling on the sides and tucking them underneath.
  8. Place the loaf on the baking sheet, cover loosely with an oiled plastic sheet, and set aside in a warm place to rise, about 1½ hours.
  9. About half an hour before baking, heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  10. Place a small pan (a pie plate or cake pan would do perfectly) in the lowest rack of the oven.
  11. With a sharp knife, make two quick gashes, like a cross, on the top of the loaf, taking care not to deflate it.
  12. Now place the bread into the preheated oven, and immediately add a cup of water to the pie plate/cake pan you’d already placed in the lowest rack of the oven.
  13. Bake the bread for 40 minutes.
  14. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.
  15. Slice with a serrated knife, and enjoy!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

26 thoughts on “Rustic Tuscan Bread

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Happy cook

    February 9, 2009 at 8:03pm

    I can smell the fresh aroma of bread till here, well i just hope i can.
    Looks so delicious. I cna eat them just like that.

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    February 9, 2009 at 8:09pm

    Gorgeous bread! I love baking, love the smell and everything! :D

    Oh, I made one for you. Vegan dishes is not easy for me but this one is so simple and citrusy, found it on the web and I enjoyed it for lunch today. I will post on Friday for you! :)

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    February 9, 2009 at 9:18pm

    The bread baking at home is just a great pleasure. The slice is so spongy and lovely crust!

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    February 9, 2009 at 10:38pm

    I love rustic breads and this one looks beautiful !!

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    DJ Karma

    February 9, 2009 at 11:29pm

    Hi, Vaishali- That bread looks awesome! I’m still working on my contribution- it’s coming soon!:)

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    February 9, 2009 at 11:55pm

    ooh, that bread is staring at me to eat it right away! Mouth-waterign bread Vaishali! Yummy!

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Curry Leaf

    February 10, 2009 at 12:22am

    Wow,I love it -looks so perfect.Never heard of this,i must add.3 rise bread,you sure are a professional and perfect baker

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    February 10, 2009 at 1:43am

    What a lovely looking bread. I love fresh baked bread.. its been quite some time i have baked one…

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    February 10, 2009 at 2:44am

    Wow, what a picture!!! Lovely…I can smell the fresh aroma wafting from your kitchen!!

    I just made something for your event today. I will post it in a day or two.As soon as you announced, that’s what I had planned to make. You are right there are many Italian dishes that can be made without cheese/butter.

    On a different note, i always want to go to Tuscany, let’s see when!!

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    February 10, 2009 at 2:53am

    Perfect Vaishali! The snaps say it all! Bookmarked for my next bread bake. :-)

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    February 10, 2009 at 2:58am

    Make me a bruschetta plee..ase! Looks so tasty and the crust is inviting me to have a wild dig! I think I will soon have something for your event – made risotto:)

  12. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    February 10, 2009 at 8:42am

    Wow gorgeous Bread..nowadays i love baking n this bread is pulling me to give a try..lovely slices n awesome crust…

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    February 10, 2009 at 2:11pm

    Hey Vaishali,

    I just happened to browse through your blog. The bread looks delicious.
    I have a qn though….After the first set of ingredients are allowed to rise for 8 hrs we then have to add these —”Now add 2 cups of bread flour
    Between 1 and 2 cups of all-purpose flour
    1 tbsp olive oil.”
    to the risen flour dough? Can you please let me know when you get a chance .
    P.S. All your recipes look and am sure tastes awesome too

  14. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    February 10, 2009 at 2:39pm

    Happy, Thanks! There really is nothing else in the world like the aroma of freshly baked bread.

    Asha, Thanks. And looking forward to seeing your vegan Italian post.

    Cham, Mahimaa, Usha: Thanks!

    Karma, great, will look forward to seeing it!

    Uma, Curry, Soma: Thanks!

    Meera: Me too, on going to Tuscany. It has always seemed like such a beautiful and romantic place. Will look forward to your entry!

    Sharmila, Thanks!

    Sunshinemom, Would love to see what you cook up!

    Priya, Thanks!

    Bindu, Welcome, and thanks for your kind words. About the question, the first batch of dough is actually a starter: it is hardly like a dough because it’s rather fluid at that point. You leave the starter to rise for 8 hours so the yeast can develop the texture of the bread. Then, after the first rise, you add the rest of the flour.
    Does that help? If you need further clarification, don’t hesitate to ask. You can also email at

  15. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Pavithra Kodical

    February 10, 2009 at 3:34pm

    Baking a bread at home..Hmmm i like the smell of fresh bread..Ohh girl bread with pesto…so tempting :)

  16. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    February 10, 2009 at 4:34pm

    Vaishali! I just blogged about a Tuscan recipe to use up left over bread, I called it Rustic Bread salad!! This is the second time that our dishes have coincided this month :))

  17. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    February 10, 2009 at 7:01pm

    I still ahvent started baking bread yet .. this one sure was a daunting task .. looks gorgeous

  18. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    February 11, 2009 at 1:53pm

    Thanks a lot for the very quick response Vaishali…I’m going to make this on the weekend and will definitely let you know how it came out, however I do have a feeling its gonna come out GREAT!!.


  19. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    April 10, 2009 at 8:59pm

    hi vaishali,
    been going through your blog for the past few days…. i came across this recipe and looks very tempting… but i was not sure about this part of the recipe…”Now place the bread into the preheated oven, and immediately add a cup of water to the pie plate/cake pan you’d already placed in the lowest rack of the oven.” …. do u place the bread into the pie plate and then add water to it?? or r they 2 seperate things in the oven ?? pls do let me know how this works!Thanks!!

  20. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    April 10, 2009 at 9:11pm

    Madhu, no the bread goes on a baking sheet and the pie plate is kept on a separate, lower rack of the oven. The intention in adding the water to the pie plate is to create a steamy atmosphere for the bread to bake in. The bread will at no time actually touch the water.
    Hope that helps :)

  21. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    January 24, 2013 at 1:50pm

    How can I make this gluten free?

  22. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 3, 2013 at 2:18am

    I’m wondering if you could use a pizza stone to bake the bread on instead of a baking sheet? Or would that make the crust too crunchy?

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