sliced Italian bread on a cutting board

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.)

Italian bread on a cooling rack

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.

step shots of making 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!)
  • Water
  • Olive oil
  • And a little know-how on shaping it into a batard/torpedo loaf (which I show in the photo above, but is also very well-explained by the great Peter Reinhart in this video)

And just like that, you’re well on your way to homemade bread blissdom.

Loaf of Italian bread on a cutting board

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.

interior shot of Italian bread

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.

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sliced Italian bread on a cutting board

Italian Bread

  • Author: Girl Versus Dough
  • 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

Description

Easy, homemade classic Italian bread with a chewy crust and soft interior. Perfect for sandwiches, toast, breakfast bakes and more!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Notes

  • 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.