This Homemade Italian Bread puts its commercial counterpart to shame. I love the loaf’s crackling crust, moist crumb, and delightfully fruity olive oil aroma. After making (and eating!) the bread three times in three days, I thought I should share the step-by-step recipe with you.
You can mix and knead this bread either by hand or by machine. I filmed the hand-kneaded version and posted it over on my YouTube channel. The version I’m posting here involves a stand mixer outfitted with a dough hook.
Homemade Italian Bread
To start, tip 1 cup (235ml) warm water into the bowl of a standing mixer.
Add 2 1/4 teaspoons (one packet) active dry yeast…
And 1 tablespoon sugar.
Whisk briefly to combine. If you already know your yeast is good, you do not have to “proof” it first. If in doubt, let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes. If the yeast foams, you’re good to go.
Now whisk into the bowl another cup of warm water…
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil…
And 2 1/2 teaspoons salt.
Then add 728 grams of bread flour (slightly more than 5 US cups). I have not tested this recipe with all-purpose flour.
Mix/knead the dough at low speed (number 2 on my KitchenAid) for just 2 minutes. Then turn off the machine, and let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Afterwards, continue kneading at low speed until the dough is fairly smooth and it cleans (or nearly cleans) the sides of the bowl — about 7 minutes.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured board, and knead it by hand a few times. The dough I mean. You’ll find a kneading tutorial in my Basic White Bread recipe.
Now form the dough into a ball…
And drop it seam-side down into a large greased (or olive-oiled) bowl. Flip the dough to grease the other side. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Let the dough rest until doubled in volume — 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Here’s the fun part: Punch down the dough to deflate it.
Dump the works onto a lightly floured work surface, and press it, with your fingers, into a rough oval shape.
To learn how to form the loaf, you might want to watch the video I referenced earlier. Otherwise, proceed as follows: Lift the upper part of the oval, and tug at the two “corners” to create “Mickey Mouse ears.”
Fold the ears inward to make a triangle, as I’ve so brilliantly demonstrated in the photo above.
Fold over the top of the triangle as pictured.
Tightly roll the dough from top to bottom…
And then pinch or karate chop the seam to seal it.
Transfer the loaf to a parchment lined baking sheet, cover loosely with cling wrap, and let rest until doubled in volume — about 30 minutes. After 15 minutes have passed, center the oven rack and preheat the oven to 425°F.
While the dough is rising, whisk the white of a large egg until it is slightly foamy.
Just before baking, brush the white — all of it — over the top and sides of the loaf.
Then sprinkle the top of the loaf with sesame seeds.
Bake until the bread turns a deep golden brown — 30-40 minutes.
Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool completely. (If the bread isn’t properly cooled, it won’t slice well.)
Slice and enjoy! The bread is terrific for toast, for plain eating, or for soaking up your favorite pasta sauce.
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And here, in case you need it, is the printable recipe:
Homemade Italian Bread
- 2 cups/470ml warm (105-115°F) water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 5 cups/728g bread flour
- vegetable spray or olive oil for greasing the proofing bowl
- 1 egg white, for glazing
- Sesame seeds for sprinkling
- Tip 1 cup/235ml of the water into the bowl of a standing mixer. Whisk in the yeast and sugar. Let proof (i.e., turn foamy) for 5-10 minutes if you're not sure your yeast is good. Then whisk in the remaining water, plus the olive oil and salt. Add the bread flour. Use the mixer's dough hook attachment to mix and knead the dough at low speed for 2 minutes. Then turn off the machine, and let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Continue kneading at low speed until a fairly smooth dough develops -- about 7 minutes.
- Scrape the dough onto a lightly-floured work surface. Knead by hand until the dough feel very smooth -- about 1 minute.
- Form the dough into a ball, place it in a large, lightly greased mixing bowl (you can use the original mixing bowl if you wash, dry, and grease it first), and flip to grease the other side. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and let the dough rest until doubled in volume -- 90 minutes to 2 hours.
- Deflate the dough, and then turn it onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat the dough into an oval shape, and then roll it up into a short, fat loaf, or "batard." Transfer the loaf to a parchment lined baking sheet, cover it loosely with cling wrap, and let rest until doubled in volume -- about 30 minutes. After 15 minutes have passed, center the oven rack and preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Put the egg white in a small bowl, and whisk it until it turns slightly foamy. Brush all of the white over the fully-risen loaf. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with sesame seeds.
- Bake in the preheated 425°F until the bread colors deeply, and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped with the fingers -- 30-40 minutes. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let it cool completely before slicing.