Homemade Italian Bread recipe has a soft and tender crumb and a delicious chewy crust in just 2 hours. Make classic Italian bread in your own home. Try it today and enjoy the flavor of Italy!
THIS POST HAS BEEN UPGRADED FROM 4/11/17 TO IMPROVE READER EXPERIENCE.
Get the best flavor and texture with simple, easy-to-follow instructions and video.
I first made this Homemade Italian Bread recipe as a part of a bread challenge group that I participated in.
The theme was “Bread from Italy“. This excited me because my hubby’s papa is 100% Italian and John is half (Irish is the rest of the mix). Since I’m related by marriage to this wonderful country, homemade Italian bread should be simple right?
I’m not sure what part of Italy this Classic Italian Bread recipe comes from. If I were to guess I would say Puglia or the southern part of Italy.
John’s family is from the north so maybe that’s my excuse for flunking this Italian bread recipe the first 3 times I made it. Slow-learner me!
To see my failed attempts scroll beyond the recipe card.
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- Baking stone – I own this particular one because it’s large and works well for longer loaves like this one. You can use it on the grill too but I just keep it in the bottom of my oven because it’s heavy!
- Unbleached Parchment Paper – This is my favorite parchment paper. It’s important to know that there is an oven temperature rating on parchment paper. If you exceed it your parchment paper can catch fire in your oven. This one is rated at 450°F, high enough for my bread recipes.
If you have a cooler kitchen, you can turn on your oven for at the lowest temperature for just a couple of minutes and then turn it off. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it proof.
Italian Bread Ingredients
- Bread Flour. Makes bread with a lighter crumb
- Sugar. Just a small amount helps the yeast become active.
- Olive oil. Provides a small amount of flavor as well as a fat that makes bread tender.
- Salt. I use Fine Sea Salt because I like the way that it dissolves and mixes in with my other ingredients. You can use Kosher salt or even table salt.
- Yeast. Active dry yeast.
- Water. Any water that you can drink can be used to make bread. However, I choose to use filtered water.
How to make Homemade Italian Bread
On the third go-around, I followed the directions to the letter. A novel idea don’t you think?
- In a large bowl activate the yeast for 5 or 10 minutes with the water and sugar.
- Add the remaining flour, salt, and olive oil. Using a wooden spoon stir it together.
- Knead the dough for ten minutes.
- Roll the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
- Proof for 1 hour.
- After one hour gently deflate the dough by just pushing your fingertips into it to form a rectangle and keeping some bubbles in the dough.
Fold the dough using the bâtard method (torpedo shape) or a baguette method as follows
- Take the right verticle edge of the dough and fold it to the center.
- Take the left verticle edge of the dough and fold it to the center meeting the right edge.
- Press your fingers over the center seam smoothing it out and creating an indentation down the center.
- Using a bench knife, turn the dough onto itself.
- Pinch the new side seam together.
- Place it on a cutting board covered with parchment paper and proof for 20 minutes
- Score the bread
- Slide the bread onto a baking stone by the parchment paper. If you don’t have a stone you can use a baking sheet turned upside down.
- For a Crusty Italian bread recipe mist the walls of the hot oven with a spray bottle filled with filtered water to create steam.
- *NOTE cover the glass of your oven door with a dish towel first. Water dripping on the glass can cause it to shatter.
What makes Italian Bread different?
- The difference between french bread and Italian bread is that Italian Bread Recipes can contain milk, olive oil, and sometimes sugar that other countries such as France do not.
- Classic Italian Bread is often baked in a stone oven rather than an electric oven.
In my humble opinion, homemade bread is so much better than store-bought. It’s better to freeze part of a loaf than to let it go to waste.
If you can’t use this bread in one to two days, freeze it in an airtight bag and then wrap with foil. You can also revive bread going stale.
How to Heat or Revive Homemade Italian Bread
If you’re reviving bread that’s gone a little stale or thawing frozen Italian Bread, the following tips work.
- To revive bread that’s been frozen, let it thaw uncovered at room temperature out of the bag. If the crust isn’t moist from thawing, mist it with water.
- For stale bread mist it and continue with the following.
- Put the damp bread in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Larger loaves can take a little longer and smaller Italian Baguettes take a little less.
- Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
What you can make with Italian bread
Homemade Bread Croutons or bread crumbs are amazing. Here are a few more amazing ideas!
Can I substitute All-Purpose flour for the Bread flour?
You sure can! Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour so the dough is a little tighter with smaller holes in the crumb.
Either flour works well in this recipe. This site is helpful if you want to read up on flour and what different substitutions can make to your bread recipe.
We LOVE baking bread! You can find all of our bread recipes here!
Active Dry Yeast versus Instant Yeast
The difference is actually just the size of the granule. Active Dry Yeast has a larger granule that must be dissolved in water before using it. This is also known as proofing the yeast.
Instant Yeast, also referred to as Rapid Rise has a smaller granule and can be mixed right into your other ingredients and doesn’t need to be proofed first.
Both dry yeasts are capable of two separate rises and can be used interchangeably. The two separate rises are required with the Active Dry Yeast whereas the second rise can be skipped with the Instant Yeast.
Other additives are added to the Instant (Rapid Rise) yeast to make the dough rise faster.
Here are a couple more recipes that use dry yeast I think you’ll like!
If you like this recipe, we would appreciate your comment and a 5-star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review!
If at first you don’t succeed follow the directions.
For my first attempt, I manhandled it and thought that was the reason it “deflated” before I had it in the oven. The second time it deflated again as soon as I scored it.
When I started researching what I could be doing wrong, I found that I was either over-proofing my bread or proofing it at too warm a temperature. I would say, I was doing both!
My biggest problem in making this “Simple” Italian bread is over-thinking it. The recipe stated to proof it for one hour for the first rise and 20 minutes for the second.
I proofed it like I do other yeast bread recipes which is 60 to 90 minutes for the first rise and 60 minutes for the second.
I read that the air temperature for proofing bread doesn’t need to be any warmer than 70°F. If you have a warmer kitchen you can just leave it out on the counter covered.
After the third attempt, this Italian bread recipe came out beautifully. You can see how the scores “bloomed” which didn’t happen on the earlier attempts.
Note to self, simple can be delicious! John loved the flops, but he really loved the successful attempt!
Even though my attempts may make you think that this is difficult bread to make. It’s not. It’s an easy Italian Bread recipe that I hope you will try yourself.
I just got in my own way which is generally the case. If at first you don’t succeed follow the directions.