I have always loved bread ever since I was little. This easy basic Italian bread does not disappoint. It has a great texture crust on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. If you love bread then you need to try this super easy Italian bread recipe.
Bread is one of those basic comfort foods adored by many people around the world. Homemade bread is one of the first things I learned how to make when I was a young lad. This basic Italian bread dough can be used for a bread loaf or it also makes great pizza dough. It is very easy to make if I can do it, you can do it. Let’s get baking!
Step 1: Gather the tools and ingredients
In order to make this basic Italian bread recipe you only need the following six ingredients:
- Hot Water – To activate the yeast. It also is important in building the gluten structure as well as being a good medium to dissolve the sugar. I always used filtered water, since my tap water is nasty tasting.
- White Granulated Sugar – The sugar will act as food for the yeast as well as give the bread a softer texture. It also helps brown the bread.
- Yeast – I generally use active dry yeast, but you may also use rapid rise or instant yeast. The yeast is what causes the bread dough to rise.
- Olive Oil – The oil helps produce a more tender crumb as well as add a bit of flavor.
- Flour – I generally use bread flour for this recipe but all-purpose flour will work fine. Flour is the main component in traditional bread making.
- Salt – The salt will help regulate the rise of the bread. It also strengthens the gluten structure of the bread dough. Salt also enhances the flavor.
- Wooden spoon
- Baking sheet
- Silicone baking mat or parchment paper
Step 2: How to Make Easy Basic Italian Bread
First, start out by prepping the yeast. In a large bowl add the hot water (100 to 110 F/41 to 44 C) then add the sugar and the yeast, if you are using active dry yeast. If you are using instant or rapid-rise yeast, that gets mixed in with the flour. And the water will be hotter. Just follow the suggested temp on the package of yeast.
Use a whisk or fork and agitate the ingredients a little bit, then allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes until it gets nice and frothy/foamy. If after 10 minutes, nothing happens, then you will need to start again. Either the yeast was old, bad, or the water was too hot or not hot enough.
Step 3: Olive oil, flour, and salt
After the yeast has done its thing, add the olive oil to it. Then add about a cup of the flour. Add the salt on top of the flour and then mix it all in with a wooden spoon or of course you can use a stand mixer.
Step 4: Kneading the basic Italian bread dough
Next, add in another cup of flour and mix that in until the dough forms. Place the dough on a floured surface and pour out the rest of the flour and have it next to the dough. Knead the dough for 8 minutes and add more flour as necessary. To hand knead the dough, place your palm on top of the dough and push down and out, it will stretch the dough a little bit. Then fold it over onto itself turn it a quarter turn and repeat. Or use the dough hook attachment on a stand mixer.
Step 5: Allow the dough to rise
Now put the dough into a bowl that has been lightly greased with olive oil. Cover it with a damp towel and let it rise, in a warm place, for an hour or until the dough has doubled. Next, place the risen Italian bread dough onto the floured surface and shape it into one long loaf. This gives it a nice rustic look. Transfer the shaped dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Cover it lightly with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise another 30 minutes. After it has risen cut slits diagonally on the top of the dough. For a nice outer crust, you can baste the top of it with olive oil.
Step 6: Bake that Italian Bread loaf
Bake the bread for 20 to 25 minutes in a preheated oven at 400 F/205 C until it is nice and golden brown on the top. After the bread is baked allow it to cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.
Now slice into that yummy easy basic Italian bread.
Can this bread dough be used as a pizza dough?
Yes! This bread dough also makes a very good homemade pizza dough.
How long with the bread dough last?
You can store the bread dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days before using it. Or you may also place it in a ziplock freezer bag and freeze the dough.
How to store freshly baked Italian bread
An ideal way to store a freshly baked loaf of homemade Italian bread is in long paper bags. The paper will help preserve the nice crust. Then just store it at room temperature or in a bread box. Since homemade bread doesn’t have any preservatives it only lasts a few days. But usually, it is eaten by then! It also can be wrapped in a plastic wrap and stored in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for a few months.
Easy Basic Italian Bread
- Wooden spoon
- baking sheet
- Silicone baking mat or parchment paper or kitchen spray
- Stand mixer with dough hook (optional)
- 1 cup hot water 240 mL
- 1 tsp. white sugar 5g
- 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast, rapid-rise, instant 7g
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil 30mL
- 2 1/2 cups of bread flour or all-purpose flour 300g
- 1 tsp salt 5g
- First prep the yeast by heating up the water between 100 and 110 F/40 to 43 C. Add the yeast and sugar and allow the yeast to get foamy. It will take 5 to 10 minutes. Skip this if using rapid-rise or instant yeast, that gets added right into the flour. And the water will be hotter. Just follow what it says on the yeast package.
- Add the oil to the bowl with the yeast and then 1 cup of the flour. Next, add the salt and mix everything together with a wooden spoon.
- Now, add in another cup of the flour and mix that in. A tacky dough will form. Place the dough on a floured surface.
- Knead the dough for 8 minutes adding extra flour as needed. Place the kneaded dough in a large bowl that has been greased with olive oil. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour or until at least doubled.
- Pace the risen dough on a floured surface and shape it into whatever bread load shape you want. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a towel and allow it to rise for 30 minutes.
- Baste the top with olive oil and bake the Italian bread dough loaf in a preheated oven at 400 F/205 C, for 20 to 25 minutes until it is nice and golden brown on top. The crust on the outside will be firm and it will be soft on the inside.
- Allow the freshly baked bread to cool for a few minutes on the pan and then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve it and enjoy it!
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