Easy Homemade Italian Bread

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There’s this little family-owned Italian restaurant in my neighborhood that has {arguably} the best baked ziti ever. For whatever reason, I was craving that tonight, and yet didn’t feel like ordering takeout for Sunday dinner – one of the few days of the week where I actually have time to relax and cook things that are otherwise tough on a busy weeknight.

So, with all the necessary ingrendients already on hand, I made the ziti. And it was fabulous. I’ll put the simple recipe up soon.

Except there was one problem: I didn’t buy a loaf of Italian bread at the grocery store this week. 

I’m the type that needs Italian bread with my pasta, or at least a baguette – I’m not picky. I checked my pantry, and low and behold, I had one packet of yeast left. One packet’s enough to make one loaf of Italian bread, I told myself.

But what I really wondered was whether or not I’d be able to find a recipe for homemade Italian bread that didn’t take hours and hours to prep and bake. And sure enough, I did!

This Easy Homemade Italian Bread has been adapted from One Punky Mama’s recipe for Fairly Quick Italian Bread.

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I made a simple dough with flour, salt, sugar, water, yeast and olive oil, and then I used my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook attachment to do the kneading for me. I don’t mind kneading by hand, but this was a nice alternative today!

Then I covered the mixing bowl, and let it rise for 30 minutes in a warm, undrafty spot – today that spot was the microwave (not on). After a half-hour, I punched the dough down (it had nearly doubled in size), and then I let it rise for another 10 minutes.

I made a loaf shape out of the dough, cut three slits on top with a very sharp knife, and then baked it on a greased cookie sheet at 400°F for about 20 minutes.

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What I ended up with was a rustic looking loaf of Italian bread, soft on the inside and a little dense. The crust had just enough tooth to it, and we loved it sliced warm with butter. Perfect with the baked ziti!

Easy Homemade Italian Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Easy homemade Italian bread in about an hour!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup warm water (about 110°F - it should feel warm on your hand, not hot)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 2 heaping cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + extra for the pan and the dough ball
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine the yeast and warm water together in a small bowl. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a KitchenAid (or similar) mixer fitted with a bread hook, until they're just combined.
  4. With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour the water/yeast mixture into the flour mixture.
  5. When the dough starts to form, but still looks flaky, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  6. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and continue kneading the dough for 5 minutes - it should look smooth by this point.
  7. If the dough still seems dry and flaky, you may need to add a little more water; if it's too wet, you may need to add a little flour, and then mix it for another minute.
  8. Remove the dough and shape it into a ball. Lightly coat the outside with olive oil, and then place it back in the mixing bowl.
  9. Cover the bowl with a towel, and then find a dry, undrafty, warm space for it to set while it rises for 30 minutes.
  10. After 30 minutes, punch the dough down. Recover the bowl, and let it continue to rise for 10 minutes longer.
  11. Use a little olive oil to grease a cookie sheet. Form the dough into a loaf shape, and then use a sharp knife to cut 3 diagonal slits on top.
  12. Bake the Italian bread for 20-25 minutes, or until it's golden brown on top.

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