Homemade Italian Bread is easier than you think! You’ll be so proud when this delicious, crusty loaf comes out of your oven. Vegan.
My goal today is to convince you to try this recipe. Because this homemade Italian bread is so easy, crusty and delicious. I don’t want you to miss out!
There’s nothing like the sense of accomplishment that comes from baking your own bread.
“Did I do that?!!,” you’ll wonder, in your best Steve Urkel voice. Or maybe that’s just me.
But, seriously. Why is it that as kids, we went to town with Play Doh and Silly Putty (now I’m aging myself), yet as adults, we shy away from making dough and shaping it into a simple loaf?
Yes, there’s kneading involved. But if you have a stand mixer with dough hooks, all you need to do is throw in your ingredients and let the machine run for six minutes. By hand, you’ll probably need a couple minutes longer, but it’s so therapeutic.
My son has been making this homemade Italian bread for years, and kneads the dough by hand like a boss. I just use my KitchenAid. (That’s an affiliate link.)
The only part that requires some thought is figuring out whether to add more flour. The humidity of your kitchen will be a factor.
But, here’s a ridiculously simple tip: If, after a couple minutes of kneading, you touch the dough and realize it’s stuck to your fingertips, you need to add more flour.
Start with an extra 1/4 cup, knead it some more and see if the dough comes together. In a stand mixer, the dough should pull away from the insides of the bowl and form a ball in the center.
If you still see residue at the bottom of your bowl, add a little more flour. Try touching the dough again.
Still sticky? Add another 1/4 cup of flour.
It’s not rocket science, I promise. You almost can’t go wrong.
You’ll let the dough rise for two hours. You can leave your house. It’s fine.
Then, you’ll come back and (gently) punch down your dough. You’ll let it rise for another 40 minutes. (One time, I left to do errands and came back more than an hour later — no big deal.)
Next, you’ll scoop up that puffy ball of dough and shape it into a loaf. It takes about five seconds. You’ll score it with a knife to provide venting, which will allow the loaf to open as it bakes.
You’ll bake the bread on a half sheet pan, or whatever you use to bake cookies. You don’t need a special loaf pan.
To give your bread a crispier crust, fill a metal 9×13 or cast iron pan halfway with hot water and place that on the bottom rack of your oven while your bread bakes on the middle rack.
To test whether your bread is done: Wearing oven mitts, turn over your loaf of bread when it’s out of the oven. With ungloved fingertips, tap the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, it’s done.
When the bread cools…you’d better have some olive oil on hand for dipping. I like regular olive oil for that, since I find it’s milder than extra virgin. Sprinkle some salt and pepper into your oil, or not, and dip away!
Friends, making homemade Italian bread is easier than lots of things in life.
- It’s easier than changing a tire.
- Easier than driving a stick shift.
- Easier than filling out back-to-school paperwork.
- Easier than mowing the lawn.
But, if you insist you’re not ready for kneading dough, you can crank out this Easy Beer Bread in under an hour.
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(Recipe Source: Adapted from my son’s recipe, which he’d adapted after seeing it online years ago.)