classic italian bread
This classic Italian bread recipe is soft and tender on the inside with a chewy crust on the outside. Homemade bread doesn’t get much better — or simpler — than this!
(NOTE: This post was originally published in 2014 (!). We’ve since then updated it with new photos, but it’s the same recipe you know and love.)
How to Make Italian Bread from Scratch
Sometimes I wish I had one of those potions from Alice in Wonderland so I can make myself small enough to lay on a slice of this Italian bread like a pillow. A heavenly soft, carbolicious pillow.
But seriously, how wonderful would that be? Because not only are you totally comfy-cozy, you also have a snack right there to munch on as needed. And then when you want to eat the bread as a sandwich or make it into a yummy baked French toast or strata or something, you can take the potion that makes you big again. It’s perfect.
Aaaaaand I’ve lost you. But homemade, soft-on-the-inside-crusty-on-the-outside classic Italian bread, remember? Yes, let’s focus more on that.
Watch How to Make Homemade Italian Bread
Ingredients You’ll Need
I am fairly certain that whenever I went to my grandma and grandpa’s house as a kid, my snack diet consisted of snap peas from the garden, kohlrabi stalks (no, really, so good) and sliced Italian bread from the bakery plain or with my grandmother’s plum jam on it (that is truly one of the best things about life ever, and I hope I can get the recipe one day to share it with you). So when Red Star Yeast asked me to make a loaf of Italian bread using their yeast, I was happy to take it on because nostalgia. And homemade bread. It was a no-brainer.
I was a little nervous that my recipe wouldn’t taste quite the same as what I remembered eating as a youth — that soft, aforementioned pillowy center with a perfectly chewy, flaky crust — but my friends, this recipe is just that and it is a glorious thing. It really doesn’t take much time, effort or ingredients to get there, either. Just a little:
- Flour (bread flour or all-purpose flour works for this recipe!)
- Yeast (Active dry yeast or instant yeast — see Recipe Notes for conversions!)
- Olive oil
- And a little know-how on shaping it into a batard/torpedo loaf (which I show in the video above!)
And just like that, you’re well on your way to homemade bread blissdom.
How to Enjoy Italian Bread
So in conclusion, I’ll be making a loaf of this bread on the regular this fall and the Season That Shall Not Be Named. And it will be taking any and all of the following forms: Sandwich, strata, bread pudding, French toast, baked French toast casserole, croutons, grilled cheese, toast. Surely I am missing more options, but that’s just for starters.
Of course, just eating slice after slice plain (as I may or may not have done once this loaf was cool enough to cut into) is going to happen a lot, too.
If this crisp-cool weather (or in my great state of Minnesota, the weird summer-after-fall weather we’ll be having) has got you bit by the baking bug as it has me, then put this easy homemade Italian bread on your list. You can thank me for it later, with a sandwich. For dessert, keep things going with this Nostalgic Banana Bread!Print
- Prep Time: 1 hour 15 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 35 mins
- Yield: 1 large loaf 1x
- Category: Bread
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Italian
Easy, homemade classic Italian bread with a chewy crust and soft interior. Perfect for sandwiches, toast, breakfast bakes and more!
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) Red Star active dry yeast*
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 cup warm water (about 110°F)
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, sugar and warm water. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes or until yeast is foamy.
- Add 2 cups flour, olive oil and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon or with a dough hook on low speed until a shaggy dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand 10 minutes, adding just enough of the remaining flour until a soft, smooth and elastic dough forms; OR, increase dough hook speed to medium and knead dough in stand mixer 5 minutes, adding just enough of the remaining flour until a soft, smooth and elastic dough forms.
- Shape dough into a ball; place in an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise 1 hour until doubled.
- Heat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, a silicone mat or lightly grease the surface with oil or cooking spray. On a lightly floured surface, punch down dough, then carefully shape into a batard/torpedo about 12 inches long. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rise another 20 to 30 minutes until puffy.
- Use a bread lame or serrated knife to make a few 1/4-inch deep slits in the surface of the loaf. Bake loaf 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing.
- If you only have instant yeast on hand, use 1 3/4 teaspoons of instant yeast in place of the active dry yeast.
- Use the highest quality olive oil you have on hand, if possible.
- How to store homemade Italian bread: Leave unsliced bread uncovered (or covered with a tea towel) at room temperature 1-2 days. If sliced, store bread cut side-down on a cutting board at room temperature 1-2 days. Beyond 2 days, store bread in a paper or plastic bag, sealed, at room temperature another 1-2 days. You can also freeze homemade Italian bread in a sealed plastic bag for up to 3 months.
Keywords: traditional bread recipe, soft center bread, easy bread recipe
Disclosure: I received compensation from Red Star Yeast for recipe development purposes. All opinions are my own.
Oh man, homemade bread like this is the best! Loving this simple recipe friend!
simple!! it turned out so good,that it was gone in one sitting!!!
it’s definately my permanent bread recipe!! thank you for sharing!!!:)
homemade bread is sooo good! I bet this is just asking to be garlic bread! YUM!
I actually just made this last night for the purpose of turning it into garlic bread! The bread turned out perfectly, and I’m so excited to share it with my family tonight!
Yes this makes wonderful garlic bread. Very simple and yummy!
Time at my grandma’s was also all about the bread! I am so trying this so I can make it myself and relive them good old days.
I love baking bread, especially once the weather turns colder. It’s so cozy! Perfect easy recipe that I imagine is a huge hit!
I love baking bread and working with dough with my hands. . there’s something so calming about baking bread. . love it! and the smell of freshly baked bread coming out of the oven is the BEST! love and pinned! I was going to call my sister (she also lives in MN) .. wondering what Minnesotians (sp?) are taking the whole Adrian Peterson thing. . not sure if you are a football fan. .
Seriously, wouldn’t it be awesome to have a bread pillow? lol! It sounds super comfy! But on a serious note…this bread….omg, this bread looks so good!
I would TOTALLY snuggle up onto this bread…with a nice blanket of butter and jam. It really does look perfect.
Ahhhh homemade bread. This is on my list for fall baking, I feel like I just never carve out enough time to make homemade bread, but I just need to do it!
Right?! Sometimes I like to think that when I die I would really like to be baked into a loaf of bread or wrapped up into a pita pockets before I’m buried. So yes, I totally get you.
Carbs = <3 and this bread looks more than perfect. Got me feeling like that heart eyes emoji right now.
Love baking with RSY! This Italian bread is a pure perfection!
A pillow of carbs?! YES!
Also, yes to sandwich bread made at home without 50 funky side-ingredients… I NEED to do this!
This bread was easy to make and tastes great!! Will make this one again!
I didn’t have sugar on hand so I used honey (1:1 substitute) and was worried it might not turn out well but it was absolutely delicious! Thank you for this easy and versatile recipe, its now my go to!
Sue — So glad you enjoyed it, you speedy baker, you! 😉
Bread pillow! Yes! Then I could eat breakfast without causing a ruckus in the kitchen and risk waking the babe. I’m in. For me, it was rye bread at my grandpa’s house. Bread = love!
Gorgeous! Glad this loaf is not in my kitchen because I’d inhale the whole thing ;).
What is the measurement on yeast if all i have is instant yeast?
Jen, You can use 1 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast in place of the active dry yeast in this recipe!
Could I use gluten free flour for this recipe?
Deborah, I have not tested this recipe with GF flour so I can’t speak to its success!