Homemade Italian Bread

Been thinking about learning to bake bread at home?  Then give this classic Homemade Italian Bread a shot!

This post was originally published in January 2015, but the recipe and post have been slightly updated.  Happy baking!

Been thinking about learning to bake bread at home? Then give this classic Homemade Italian Bread a shot! Flour.  Salt.  Yeast.  Water.  That’s it.  Homemade bread only requires 4 ingredients. It’s really pretty darned simple.  Sure, it takes time to make just because you have to let the yeast do it’s thing…but there’s not all that much actual work required to make homemade bread.  Now that the new year has begun, what new skills would you like to learn in the coming months?  If you have any interest in cooking and baking (and you probably do, or else you wouldn’t be reading this, right?), then may I suggest polishing up on your homemade bread making skills?  This Homemade Italian Bread is one of the most basic bread recipes…which makes it a great one to start with.  (Italian bread also just so happens to be one of the most delicious breads ever in my opinion!)

Been thinking about learning to bake bread at home? Then give this classic Homemade Italian Bread a shot! Bread baking is one of the oldest professions in the world.  Seriously.  While today’s bakers are making all sorts of tasty artisan breads, bread baking started with our ancestors thousands of years ago.  Back in the days of Fred Flintstone (~1000 BC, folks, not the 1960’s), cavemen would grind up wild grains and then cook them over an open fire or on hot rocks.  But those cavemen were pretty darned clever.  They realized that if they let the grain paste sit, it would collect wild yeast from the air.  I’m not sure they really knew it was yeast, but they did know that it leavened the bread.  This was pretty much the beginning of sourdough bread.  Those cavemen were pretty smart folks.

Fast forward 3,000 years.  Bread baking is now much easier.  We can buy ground grains (i.e. flour), yeast and salt.  We can turn on the sink to get water.  And that’s it.  I typically add a bit of malt syrup or honey to my bread dough, too.  The syrup is packed with sugar, and yeast loves to eat up this sugar…especially when it’s placed in a warm location.  (FYI: I found my malt syrup at a local organic grocery store, but honey works well, too.)  Just think of the malt syrup (or honey) as an extra sugar rush for the yeast.  But enough nerdy talk about yeast and ingredients.  Get in the kitchen and bake up some Homemade Italian Bread.  But don’t blame me if you eat the entire loaf when it comes out of the oven.

Been thinking about learning to bake bread at home? Then give this classic Homemade Italian Bread a shot! Homemade Italian Bread

So I’ve heard from a lot of readers that you have a fear of yeast.  Here’s the thing: you can make bread.  That yeast isn’t going to jump and bite you.  Just make sure you use active, dry yeast (not the rapid rise stuff) and make sure it’s fresh.  The only other thing you need is a nice warm place where your yeast can play.  Ideally, you’re looking for somewhere about 80-85°F.  In the winter, I turn my oven on, and as soon as it hits 100°F, I turn it back off.  Now I’ve got a nice warm place for that dough.  (I also re-warm it after folding the dough.)  In the summer, I can usually just put the covered bowl out on the back porch depending on the temperature.

Been thinking about learning to bake bread at home? Then give this classic Homemade Italian Bread a shot! So what’s the deal with mixing up some of the dough and then letting it sit overnight?  It’s all about flavor.  Yup, the extra long fermentation period creates extra flavor in your loaf of baked bread.  That’s why most commercial bakeries will take a portion of each day’s dough and add it to the dough for the next day.  My pizza dough recipe even includes a starter.  It doesn’t take more than about 2-3 minutes to mix it together, and the effort will absolutely pay off in the end.  (One time, I forgot to do this for my pizza dough and just mixed everything together at once.  The dough baked up just fine, but it was lacking in flavor.  True story.)

There are many versions of Italian bread out there.  Focaccia is one of my favorites.  (This Cheesy Spinach and Sundried Tomato Focaccia is one of my favorites!)  Grissini (i.e. crispy bread sticks) also count as another Italian bread.  But this recipe is for a classic Homemade Italian Bread.  It’s got a crisp, chewy crust, and it’s perfect for dipping in olive oil.  I’m fairly certain I could eat an entire loaf of this bread with olive oil…especially when it’s fresh out of the oven.  (I’ve never actually tried this…yet.)

Been thinking about learning to bake bread at home? Then give this classic Homemade Italian Bread a shot! Have I convinced you to give homemade bread a shot?  One more tip to mention is a pizza stone.  Stones are great for baking pizza, but they’re also great for bread baking.  If you have a stone, make sure to put it in your oven while it preheats.  If you don’t have a stone, no worries…but I suggest picking one up.  My baking stone pretty much permanently lives on the bottom rack of my oven.  Enough talking!  Whether you’re a bread baking newbie or you’ve been baking homemade bread for years, I think you’ll be pleased with this Homemade Italian Bread.  It’s a relatively simple recipe that produces one heck of a tasty loaf (or two) of bread.  Enjoy!

Did you make this Homemade Italian Bread at home?  Leave a comment, or better yet snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).  I’d love to see your version!

Been thinking about learning to bake bread at home? Then give this classic Homemade Italian Bread a shot!

Classic Italian Bread

Been thinking about learning to bake bread at home? Then give this classic Homemade Italian Bread a shot!
5 from 12 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 14 hours
Total Time: 14 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 32 slices
Calories: 86kcal

Ingredients

For the Starter (aka poolish)

  • cups bread flour
  • pinch instant dry yeast
  • 1 cup water

For the Final Dough

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp malt syrup or honey
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • tsp active dry yeast
  • tsp salt

Instructions

For the Starter

  • In a medium bowl, combine all Starter ingredients (bread flour, yeast and water). Stir until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature overnight (12-16 hours).

For the Final Dough

  • Transfer the Starter into the bowl of a countertop mixer fitted with a dough hook. (Note: This dough can be made by hand, but you will need to knead it about twice as long as the time included in the instructions below.)
  • Add the water and malt syrup (or honey) to the bowl and mix on low speed until smooth (2-3 minutes).
  • Next, add the flour, yeast and salt. Mix on low-medium speed for 3-4 minutes.
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm location (~80°F) for 45 minutes.
  • Turn the dough out onto a well-floured countertop, sprinkle the top with 1-2 Tbsp of extra flour and then flatten dough into a large square. Fold dough into thirds—similar to how you would fold a letter. (See photos in post for visual guide.)
  • Cover and let dough rise in a warm location for another 45 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into two pieces of equal weight. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rest on the countertop for 10 minutes.
  • Working with one piece of dough at a time, flatten dough into a square and then fold into thirds. Shape the dough into a loaf by firmly rolling it back and forth with the seam down. (Tip #1: The loaf should be roughly 16” long and the center should be a bit thicker than the ends. To accomplish this, simply put more pressure on the edges of the dough as you roll it into the elongated shape.) (Tip #2: If the dough shrinks back while you are trying to shape it into a loaf, then just let it sit covered on the countertop for an extra 5-10 minutes. The dough will relax, and it will be easier to shape.)
  • Generously dust two pieces of parchment paper with cornmeal. Place the shaped loaves on the cornmeal-dusted parchment. Cover very lightly and let rise in a warm location for 75-80 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • Dust the tops of the loaves with flour. Using a sharp knife, place 3 diagonal slices into the top of the loaf. The slices should be about 3-4” long and about ½” deep.
  • Bake at 450°F for 25-30 minutes, or until loaves are deep golden brown (but not burnt!) in color.
  • Let dough cool fully before slicing. (Note: This is difficult to do as the freshly baked bread smells delicious!)

Been thinking about learning to bake bread at home? Then give this classic Homemade Italian Bread a shot!

Looking for more tasty bread recipes?  Check out these other favorites:

Fresh bread is the best kind of bread!  This homemade Marbled Rye Bread is not only fun to make, but it's the perfect bread for delicious reuben sandwiches!Marbled Rye Bread

This Almond Flour Bread is an easy, low-carb bread.  We loved lightly toasting slices of this bread with a bit of butter and jam!Almond Flour Bread

This Homemade Pita Bread is incredibly tasty! Serve with hummus for a light lunch or a fun afternoon snack.Homemade Pita Bread

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82 Comments

  1. Wait. People are afraid of yeast??? Who? I don’t know ANYONE like that!
    Once again, you and your bread have left me drooling. Wait… that didn’t come out quite right. 😉
    P.S. Wait until you see what’s comin’ up on the blog in a couple of weeks!

    1. Haha! How did you know that you were one of the yeast-averse people I was talking about?? But it seems to me that you have conquered your fear…and now I can’t wait to see what breads you come up with. Bread baking is an art as much as a science…enjoy it!

    1. Oh, you are talking my language right here, Dannii! I literally have to walk away from bread when it is fresh out of the oven. I’m fairly certain I could make an entire meal out of a loaf of fresh homemade bread with olive oil. 🙂

  2. I love bread so much, never made one though. It is on my to do list for 2015. Your italian bread looks so delicious, i could eat the entire loaf.

    1. Chichi! You totally need to make bread this year. It just requires patience…and the results are so incredibly amazing! You’ll never go back to store-bought bread again. Seriously. I always make 2-3 loaves at a time, and then I just wrap/freeze them. Homemade bread is the best…and this Italian bread is an easy one to start with. I hope you give it a shot this year! Happy New Year!

  3. I read this like ” Tamara why are you afraid of baking with yeast?” LOL! I know, a wee bit self absorbed this 2nd day of the New Year. 🙂 This bread looks really good and I am going to do my best to bake more breads other than quick breads. You have really inspired me. The next bread I will try will be your cinnamon bread. Can’t remember if it had raisins or not. Anywho, thanks for the history lesson. I can really tell you still have that teacher in you. Maybe you can start a bread making bootcamp? Hey, it’s the New Year so I have ideas galore! LOL!

    1. Mmmm…bread baking bootcamp! The best part about that idea is the fact that we’d get to sit around and eat a bunch of homemade bread when it’s over. 🙂 Seriously, though, give homemade bread a shot! It requires just a little bit of practice and patience…but the results are SO worth it. That cinnamon raisin bread is one of my favorites, too. That one might be a good one to start with because the dough is super soft, so it goes into a loaf pan instead of needing to be shaped. I’m expecting big things this year, Tamara! I have faith in your yeast abilities!

    1. You are too kind, Pamela! Bread baking is probably one of my favorite things to do, and your comment made me smile. Thank you so much! Here’s to an awesome 2015!

    1. Yikes! I can’t even imagine what yeast-free soft pretzels would taste like. I’m guessing it would be like chewing on a brick…am I right? Yeast isn’t all that hard…it just requires a bit of love and patience!

  4. A couple of years ago, I started the new year off by baking bread . . I need to break out the yeast again!!! you make it look too easy .. and this Homemade Italian Bread looks perfect!!! just gorgeous! you are setting the bread baking bar high my friend! Wishing you and your family a wonderful 2015! happy new year!

    1. Oh, you totally do need to break the yeast out again, Alice! There is something so fun and calming about playing with bread dough…and then baking and eating it warm out of the oven. 🙂 Happy 2015…here’s to a great year!!

    1. Haha! Thank you so much, Christina! I’m pretty darned obsessed with Italian bread, too…especially when it’s still hot from the oven. In fact, I could really go for a big hunk of bread with olive oil right now. 🙂

  5. This looks fantastic David. Now I’ll need to hunt down some malt syrup! I’ve been experimenting with different starters for sourdough lately for an upcoming post – baking all kinds of loaves, rolls, breads and waffles. Some good, some not so, haha! These shots look beautiful. #WolfpackEats

    1. Yeah, that’s the fun part of baking bread in my opinion. Some loaves work better than others…so you take notes, make adjustments and try again. This Italian Bread recipe is one of the first loaves of homemade bread I ever made…and it’s still one of my favorites!

  6. Stop it with this perfect loaf of bread! You are making everyone else feel inadequate! I’ve never tried baking bread with a starter…must do. I have zero doubt that I could polish off at least half of this loaf on my own in one sitting. Especially if I were able to snag it from you while still warm from the oven. swoon

  7. Mmm freshly baked bread is my absolute favorite thing in the world and it brings back so many beautiful childhood memories. Baking bread is definitely something I need to look more into this year, thanks for inspiration.

    1. No problem, Oana! Baking bread is probably my favorite thing to do in the kitchen. There’s always a new way to experiment or add a twist to the recipe! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

  8. I bake bread…when I have time and I love to. Made your bread today, it was awesome. I followed your recipe exactly except I took it out of the oven 5 minutes before recommended. I definitely would make this recipe again….but it takes so much time….from the night before, to 3 separate rise times. Honestly, it was delicious, it’ll just have to be a special occasion bread. Do you have another recipe that takes less time with the same results?

    1. Hey Mary Ann! Thank you so much for commenting. Yes, this is absolutely one of my favorite bread recipes. It’s a classic. But it does take time to develop that flavor. It’s hard to cheat on the time when there are so few ingredients involved. That’s why I often make several of these loaves at a time and then just freeze the extras for later. 🙂 As far as a bread that doesn’t take as long, check out these links below. They all require rising time, but none of these require that extra overnight step. They all get a bunch of flavor from the additional ingredients in the dough instead! If you try any of these, let me know your thoughts. Thanks again, Mary Ann!!

      French Herb Bread: http://spicedblog.com/french-herb-bread.html
      Honey Oat Wheat Bread: http://spicedblog.com/honey-oat-wheat-bread.html
      Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread: http://spicedblog.com/whole-wheat-sandwich-bread.html

  9. I love to bake but I can’t find “bread flour”, what are the recipe changes in order to make this great looking bread?

    1. Hey there, Yolanda! So bread flour is it’s own unique thing. I’m not sure where you live, but several big flour companies (like Bob’s Red Mill) offer product finders on their websites. You could use that to maybe find bread flour. Also, sometimes bread flour is called “strong flour” in other countries. With all of that said, you can just use regular all-purpose flour for this recipe, too. The bread will be softer and won’t have that “chewy” feel that is common for Italian Bread. But it’ll still be homemade bread…and I bet it will still taste delicious! 🙂

  10. Just made my dough, should it be a stiff mixture? Mine is very stiff. I’ve added a little more water. I do bake bread often and my dough is not so stiff. HELP!!

    1. Hey Bernie! Looks like we’re in different time zones, so my apologies for not getting to you earlier. This is indeed a stiff dough, but it shouldn’t be any stiffer than other bread doughs that you have made. It should pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and form a nice ball of dough. If something feels wrong, then I might suggest double-checking the measurements? This is a basic bread dough that I use all the time here at home, and I love it! Let me know how it turns out. I wish I could have been there to see the dough, but it’s kinda hard to troubleshoot via the web! I’m crossing my fingers this one worked out for you!

  11. So I made the starter anticipating I would be able to finish it up the following day. However, I have a very bad habit of not reading all the way through recipes before I start them… and do not have 3 hours for the rest of the recipe. It is Tuesday, how do you feel about the starter sitting out until Sunday when I’m able to devote a few hours to said bread? Or do I have any other options? I am a super beginner to baking…. Thank you!

    1. Hey there, Caitlin! I totally understand where you’re coming from, and I have to plan ahead a bit whenever I make homemade bread. But it is totally worth it…I promise!

      So I would recommend just ditching that starter that you made and then remaking it next Saturday. Fortunately it’s just a little bit of flour and a pinch of yeast…so not a huge cost investment. I’m afraid it would over-ferment if you tried to hold it all the way until next Sunday at this point.

      With that said, you can still make this bread without the overnight starter. Just incorporate the starter ingredients into the final dough and don’t let them sit overnight. However, I highly (highly!) recommend using the starter. It adds a ton of flavor to the finished loaves.

      Do stick with the baking bread thing. I love cooking/baking, and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen…and baking homemade bread is still my absolute favorite thing to do! And if you have other questions, just ask. I’m happy to help as much as possible!

      Oh, and if you like sandwich bread, check this post out: http://spicedblog.com/whole-wheat-sandwich-bread.html It’s an older post, but it’s still one of my favorites for baking sandwich bread. And that one doesn’t require an overnight starter, either. 🙂

      1. Hey, thanks for such a quick reply! I suppose I will toss the starter and begin again Saturday. Thanks for the tip! I received a Kitchen Aid stand up mixer for Christmas and thus far I have made…. pizza dough and cookies 😉 – I just bought whole wheat flour yesterday and have been meaning to find a whole wheat sandwich-type bread.. Are you reading my mind? 😛

        How long would you say this Italian Bread (or the sandwich loaf) would stay fresh and edible? Do you have any storing recommendations?

        Thanks a ton! I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

        1. No problem, Caitlin! Sounds like you’re off to a great start with that mixer. Homemade pizza dough is one of my favorites! I have several different bread recipes out here on this site…so check ’em out! The good part about those sandwich breads is you can change it up by adding different dried herbs, so that’s kinda fun.

          As far as this Italian Bread, I’d say it’s best within 2-3 days of baking. After that, it starts to get a bit dried out. However, freshly baked bread freezes very well! So you can always freeze one loaf and come back to it later. Just put it in a freezer bag and you’ll be good to go. The sandwich loaf lasts a bit longer if I recall…more in the 3-4 day range. (It freezes well, too.) I always store my bread in a freezer bag (Ziploc) on the countertop. Air is an enemy to freshly baked bread…it’s what causes the staling process to begin!

          We did indeed have a great holiday…I hope you did, too! Now I’m just trying to get back into the work zone again. 🙂

          1. David, I have this in the oven right now!! My first homemade loaf of bread, I am so anxious!

          1. I mean, it didn’t look as pretty as yours and I cut my finger pretty bad with my new knife set while slicing the bread 😉 – BUT IT WAS DELICIOUS. The second loaf will be used to make pizzas tonight 😉

        2. Oh no! Sorry to hear about the knife cut…those are the worst! 🙁 Glad the bread turned out well. The look will come with practice as you get used to folding and shaping dough. And Italian Bread pizzas sound like a pretty darn delicious dinner. Congrats on baking homemade bread!! 🙂

  12. Question for you David –

    What gives Italian bread it’s flavor – it has a distinct taste over other white breads that have yeast ?

    Mar

    1. That’s a great question, Mar! Some Italian breads don’t have any salt, and that definitely leads to a unique flavor. This recipe does have salt, though. Off the top of my head, I’d say it’s the ingredient proportions that contribute to the flavor. Well, that, and the overnight poolish. That poolish is responsible for a huge amount of flavor!

      1. Thanks David, just one of those annoying things floating around in my head……..My Daddy gave me a bread machine about 25-30 years ago, doesn’t get used often (because I can’t leave fresh bread alone) but I have one recipe I use when I want fresh bread, and it tastes just like italian bread, has potato flakes in it. First few times I made it, I kept telling D, this doesn’t taste like potato bread I’ve had before, but it has a distinct taste. Made it when our friends were over and their, then 6 yr old, said “Oh, great italian bread” and it clicked, that was what I was tasting – Just some off the wall info

        Thanks again
        Mar

        1. Interesting note about the potato flakes! I’ve used those in other bread recipes, but never in an Italian bread. I’ll have to try that out soon. I’m guessing it’ll be the holidays before I get a chance to settle back and make some bread for fun…but you better believe I’m looking forward to it! Thanks, Mar!

          1. Let me know if you use potato flakes, what you think of flavor difference, if you notice one.

            Wishing You, Laura, and Robbie a Very Happy Thanksgiving, should I not pop in before then 🙂

            Mar

          1. I was thinking along those same lines. The salt-less bread you’re referring to, my understanding is that it goes back to ancient time, when salt was a type of Roman currency, and couldn’t just be tossed into any old everyday staple food. I love that type of Italian bread for sopping up red sauce! This salted loaf, though, I bet would be great for sandwiches.

  13. Tried this recipe today after making a couple of similar ones. Used my KitchenAid for the mixing and kneading and raw honey as the sweetner. Baked @450 for 26 minutes. Just came out of the oven looks delicious if there’s a photo upload link I will send a picture.

    1. Hey Diane! I’m so glad this recipe turned out well for you. This really is my go-to Italian bread recipe, and I make it every couple of weeks at least. Unfortunately, I don’t have a way to upload a picture here in the comments. I hope the bread tastes as good as it looks! Happy baking, my friend! 🙂

  14. 5 stars
    Glad you re-posted this one, David! I LOVE homemade bread and have been in such a mood to bake some lately! I bet the house smells amazing as this bakes…and it tastes even better 😉 Talk about delicious smeared with butter or dunked in balsamic/olive oil! Now I’m hungry, lol. Happy Easter, my friend!

    1. Oh man, you’re talking my kinda language with the fresh bread dipped in olive oil, Dawn! I could totally make a meal out of that. I hope you and the family had a great Easter weekend! 🙂

  15. 5 stars
    Amazing looking bread! I desperately want to try some breads now. But Canadian stores are running out of yeast right now. can you believe it? There is no yeast in the nearby stores 🙂
    well, Hope you guys are doing great there.

    1. That’s what I’ve come to learn here, too, Priya! Yeast and flour are both on short supply. I think lots of folks are embracing the bread-baking thing. That’s awesome in my opinion! Definitely keep this one on the radar for when yeast comes back in stock. Hope you guys are staying safe up there!

  16. 5 stars
    Glad you reminded me about this one, David. What a beautiful loaf – and so simple! I hope that you and Laura and Robbie have a wonderful Easter!

    1. Yes! Homemade bread really is quite simple. It just takes a bit of time…but it’s time well spent! Hope you and the family had a great Easter weekend, Marissa!

    1. Yes! Baking really is a great quarantine activity. I’ve taught Robbie how to make sourdough bread with me, and he’s loving it! Now I just need to get him to the point that he can do it all himself…HAH! 🙂 Hope you and the family had a great holiday weekend, Valentina!

    1. I’m finding that yeast is in short supply everywhere up here. How’s the yeast and flour supply down there? I hope you’ve got some in stock because warm homemade bread is a thing of beauty!!

    1. Yes! Definitely put this on the list, Dawn. Warm homemade bread has a tendency of “magically” disappearing. 🙂 Hope you and the family had a great holiday weekend!

    1. Yesss! Of course, mopping up sauce means you actually make the sauce. I’ve been known to just make an entire meal out of this bread and olive oil. It’s true. Hope you guys had a great holiday weekend! 🙂

  17. 5 stars
    You cant beat baking your own bread can you David? This is a lovely Italian bread recipe that I’ll definitely need to try. Our shops are completely out of flour at the moment so I’ll Pin this recipe for now until I can get some. Take care there David, Happy Easter and stay safe! 🙂

    1. That’s a new shortage here in the States right now, too, Neil – flour. I guess everyone had the same idea about baking bread at home, huh? Definitely save this recipe for when flour shows back up! 🙂

  18. 5 stars
    Timely repost as the whole world is baking and apparently lots of bread. We have flour here just no Jäst (yeast). Luckily I had some instant tucked away for emergency bakes as well as my trusty rye sough dough starter.
    I will dedicate a pinch of much-cheerished dry jäst stash to give your Classic Italian bread a try. Have you ever made Italian supermarket bread?

    1. Yes! The shortage on flour and yeast is crazy. At the beginning of this thing, it was pasta, bread and toilet paper. Now it seems to have moved on to flour and yeast. Like you, I keep a backstock of any and all baking ingredients. I love (!!) this recipe, Ron!

      And no, I’ve never tried the Italian supermarket bread. In fact, if it’s the stuff that they sell here – I’m actually disappointed in it. Our local grocery store sells a cheaper Italian loaf, and I feel like it’s just white bread masquerading as Italian. Now I enjoy white bread and all, but when I want a good chewy Italian bread, then I want a good chewy Italian bread! 🙂

        1. Ok that looks similar but also very different than the generic stuff I was thinking about here. I do love me some King Arthur, so I’ll put this recipe on the list of things to bake! We’ve been doing weekly bread days here, and Robbie is enjoying making the dough. (And then he’s really enjoying eating the bread with jam later. Hah!) Thanks for sharing this, Ron!

  19. 5 stars
    It’s so true–there’s no need to fear yeast! If I can make bread, anyone can! And the next bread I bake has to be this one. OMG it looks PERFECT! Hope you guys had a great Easter!

    1. Thanks so much, Kelsie! Baking bread is one of my all-time favorite kitchen activities, and one of the silver linings of the quarantining is that I have plenty of time to bake bread. 🙂

  20. 5 stars
    I love making bread, David! I don’t do it often, but every time I do, I swear I’m going to do it every month or so. And you’re so right, now is the time to make more bread! Thanks for the recipe and all of the tips and information!

    1. I’m the same as you, Laura! I love making bread, but I don’t get to make it as often as I’d like. One of the silver linings of the quarantine right now is that I have plenty of time to make bread – I’ve been making it once a week lately, and it’s awesome! 🙂

    1. Yes! We’ve been baking a ton here lately, too. I guess we aren’t alone, though, as I see that flour and yeast is in short supply in the stores. I’m glad more folks are learning the wonders that come with baking homemade bread. Man, just typing this response is making me want to go bake more bread today! 🙂

    1. Oooo…awesome! Thanks so much for stopping back by and letting me know. It’s hard to beat fresh bread and peanut butter – unless we’re talking fresh bread and good olive oil. Haha. Hope you guys are hanging in there, Nicole!

  21. I grew up in an area where Italian immigrants had settled in. Of course, amazing Italian bakeries were everywhere. I’m surprised no one has talked about the unique smell of a good loaf of Italian bread. That’s what I’m looking for. It will tell me if this is what I consider to be a loaf of authentic Italian bread. I’m hoping it’s the fermentation overnight and then all of the rise times. Not all Italian breads are equal!

    1. Ah, the smell of Italian bread in the oven is almost irresistible! This bread is a classic recipe, and I’ve made it countless times over the years. I do think it’ll produce that iconic smell that you describe, Kathy. Let me know what you think!

  22. Hi,
    Thank you for the recipe and explanation regarding the poolish. I’m plan to try it this week. I’ve only been baking bread for about a year; finding and deciphering my grandmother’s 100+ year old recipe was the impetus for that. I REALLY REALLY wanted to have that bread again. It was a very rewarding experience and now I’m on to making other breads, and I love a good Italian loaf.
    My question is a curious one…. is there a purpose other than presentation, for putting
    slits in the top of the loaf prior to baking?
    Also, I realize this may be a sin, but do you know what would happen if this loaf was baked in a bad pan vs. on a stone?

    Thank you again, Carolyn

    1. Hey Carolyn! I do highly recommend this recipe – it’s a classic bread, and it’s honestly not that difficult to make as long as you have the time. (The time is what leads to flavor!) That’s a great question about slashing the dough before baking it. While that does help with presentation, it actually serves an important role. By slashing the dough, you’re telling the dough where you want it to expand. If you didn’t slash it, the dough would expand in the oven…but who knows where it might expand. The steam in the dough needs to escape, and the slashing tells the steam where it should go!

      Finally, the bread pan question. Some breads are really suited for bread pans (I’ve got several of those recipes here on the site), however this bread is not one of them. Truthfully, I’m not sure what would happen with this dough in a bread pan – however, I think it wouldn’t be good. I suspect the top of the bread would end up burning long before the inside was fully baked. And you wouldn’t end up with those wonderfully chewy edges that are so iconic with Italian bread. You could always give it a try, but I suspect the results wouldn’t be too great. But…speaking of pans, I do recommend this one: https://amzn.to/3F94jRE It’s great for baguettes! (And it looks like the pan is on sale right now, too!)

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