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The Best Italian Bread Recipe Ever

Ari has been on a mission to learn to bake more fun, complicated, and beautiful baked goods.

My family's homemade Italian bread.

My family's homemade Italian bread.

My Grandma's Recipe for Homemade Bread

Everyone says to write what you know. What do I know most about in this world? Probably my favorite food, bread! I love all breads! There is no discrimination here. White, wheat, Italian, French, cheese, garlic, hard crusts, soft crusts, you name it, I eat it. I figured it was time for me to try my hands at making my own bread.

I come from a Sicilian family. Every Sunday, when I was younger, we would get together at my grandma's house and have pasta and red sauce. My grandma would make homemade red sauce and her own bread. When I got older, I would go to her house for lunch, and she would make homemade Sicilian pizza (this is something I am planning to try myself in the near future).

As my grandma got older, she started to cook less and less. And when she did cook, she would forget things. A few years ago, my grandfather was diagnosed with COPD and passed away. Once this happened, my grandmother could no longer take care of herself and moved in with my parents. My mother took care of her for two years before she too passed away.

This was our first Thanksgiving without her. In honor of my grandmother, I wanted to try making homemade bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp active yeast
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 5 cups flour (if dough is still really sticky, add more)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning (optional, to taste)

Directions

  1. Place yeast, warm water, and the brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir and once combined, let it stand for a few minutes. The yeast is activated once the mixture starts to bubble up and foam.
  2. Add olive oil and salt. Add flour gradually while mixing. When enough is added, the dough should start coming away from the side of the bowl while mixing. Mix for a few more minutes after that. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment; this made my life a lot easier!
  3. Take out of mixer and knead by hand for a few minutes. This is the point where you will add the Italian seasoning if desired. Be sure to keep kneading until the seasoning is evenly dispersed throughout the dough.
  4. Cover and let the dough rise for 30–45 minutes. Once it has doubled in size, you can divide it into 2 loaves.
  5. Cover each loaf with a warm damp cloth and sit out until it has doubled in size once more. Preheat the oven to 375.
  6. Optional: If you want the loaves to have a shiny look to them, once they are finished, beat together 1 egg and 1 tbsp of water and brush the egg wash on the top of the bread.
  7. Make a single cut down the center of each loaf and place it in the oven on the top rack. On the rack underneath, place a shallow pan with 1 cup of hot water inside. Keep an eye on this because if it evaporates, you will have to add more.
  8. Bake the dough for 25–30 minutes. Once loaves are golden brown and make a hollow sound when tapping on them, they are ready!
Finished loaf with egg wash for shine.

Finished loaf with egg wash for shine.