m. c. de marco: The New Kitchen Cookbook


This recipe is adapted from The Il Fornario Baking Book, which has an oversized notion of a loaf of bread and uses bread flour. It also requires a biga and an infinite amount of time between all the kneading and rising.

Makes: 2 loaves.


  • ⅜ c. biga (defrosted if frozen)
  • ¼ c. warm water
  • 1 tsp. yeast
  • 3 ½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. vital wheat gluten (adjust for the protein content of your flour)
  • ½ T. salt
  • 1 ⅜ c. cool water
  • cornmeal (optional)


  • baking stone
  • broiler pan (or spray bottle)


  1. Let the biga warm up some (if it was refrigerated).
  2. Mix the yeast into the warm water in a small bowl and let sit 15 minutes.
  3. Mix the gluten, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Don’t forget the gluten.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients (except cornmeal) to the flour and mix with a spoon until incorporated.
  5. Knead by hand in the bowl for 5 minutes.
  6. Knead on a floured surface for about 15 minutes.
  7. Transfer to an oiled bowl (flipping to coat with oil) and cover.
  8. Let rise 1 ½ hour or until doubled.
  9. Punch down, fold dough into center, turn over, and re-cover.
  10. Let rise 1 hour.
  11. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board. Divide in half.
  12. Fold each half of the dough into the center to form a round ball.
  13. Place loaves rough side down onto a heavily floured board and cover.
  14. Preheat oven (with stone and broiler pan) to 425°.
  15. Let loaf rise about 45 minutes, until it springs back from your touch.
  16. Dust some parchment paper (on/or a cutting board or other peel-like surface) with cornmeal, semolina, or flour.
  17. Gently flip the loaf onto the parchment paper, revealing the floury rough side of the loaf.
  18. Slide the loaf (with paper) onto the stone.
  19. Carefully pour 1 cup hot water into the broiler pan (or mist the oven with water).
  20. Bake 5 minutes.
  21. Lower the oven temperature to 400° and remist, if misting, or restock the broiler pan if it’s low.
  22. Bake 35–40 minutes, removing the parchment paper partway through.
  23. Cool on a rack.


Using the method described above, you can also form the same amount of dough into

  • the single massive loaf from the book (increase time to 40–50 minutes)
  • 12 rolls (reduce time to 20–30 minutes)
  • a reasonable loaf plus 6 rolls

You can bake a loaf of bread in a dutch oven (or other heavy pot) instead of on a stone, and skip the steam (because it steams itself in there). During the last rise, preheat the oven to 450° with the covered pot inside instead of the other equipment. At baking time, uncover the pot to lower the bread into it using the parchment paper. Bake 35 minutes covered for the single massive loaf (half size), or 25 minutes for the reasonably-sized loaf. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until it sounds done. Lift out with the parchment paper and cool on a rack as usual. Be careful with the hot pot and lid, and don’t use pots or lids with plastic handles.