Crusty Italian Bread

healty meal, low carbs meals, keto meal

There’s nothing quite like the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the kitchen. This Crusty Italian Bread recipe is perfect for anyone looking to recreate the authentic taste of Italy in their own home. With a golden, crispy crust and a soft, chewy interior, this bread is ideal for sandwiches, dipping in olive oil, or simply enjoying with a pat of butter. Let’s get started on this delightful baking journey!

Ingredients (Makes 2 Loaves)

  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 cups flour


Step 1: Prepare the Dough

  1. Activate the Yeast: In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/3 cups of warm water (around 110°F or 45°C), 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast, and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir gently and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy. This indicates that the yeast is active.
  2. Mix Ingredients: Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil to the yeast mixture. Gradually add 4 cups of flour, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. The dough should start to come together and pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Knead the Dough: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour, but be careful not to add too much.

Step 2: Let the Dough Rise

  1. First Rise: Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it once to grease the top. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free area for about 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
  2. Shape the Loaves: Punch down the dough to release the air. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Shape each portion into a loaf by flattening it into a rectangle, rolling it up tightly, and pinching the seams to seal. Place the loaves seam-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Step 3: Second Rise and Bake

  1. Second Rise: Cover the loaves with the kitchen towel and let them rise for another 30-45 minutes, or until they have doubled in size.
  2. Preheat the Oven: While the loaves are rising, preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  3. Score the Loaves: Just before baking, make a few diagonal slashes across the tops of the loaves with a sharp knife. This will allow steam to escape and help the bread expand properly.
  4. Bake: Bake the loaves in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  5. Cool: Remove the loaves from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Cook Notes and Variations

  • Flour Variations: For a different texture and flavor, try using a mixture of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. You can start with a 50/50 ratio and adjust to your preference.
  • Herb-Infused Bread: Add 1-2 teaspoons of dried herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or oregano to the dough for an aromatic twist.
  • Garlic Bread: Brush the loaves with a mixture of melted butter and minced garlic before baking to make a delicious garlic bread.

Keto and Low-Carb Version

For those on a keto or low-carb diet, here’s a modified version of the recipe:

  • Flour Substitute: Use almond flour or a combination of almond flour and coconut flour instead of all-purpose flour.
  • Yeast Substitute: Since yeast needs sugar to activate and low-carb diets avoid sugar, use a baking powder instead for leavening.
  • Instructions: Mix 2 cups of almond flour, 1/2 cup of coconut flour, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add 4 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup of melted butter, and 1/2 cup of warm water. Mix until a dough forms, then shape and bake as per the original instructions.

Enjoy Your Homemade Crusty Italian Bread!

Baking bread at home is not only rewarding but also allows you to control the ingredients and create a healthier, fresher product. This Crusty Italian Bread is perfect for any occasion, whether you’re making sandwiches, serving it as a side dish, or simply enjoying it on its own.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast? A: Yes, you can use instant yeast. Simply add it directly to the dry ingredients without dissolving it in water first.

Q: How should I store the bread? A: Store the bread at room temperature in a bread box or a paper bag for up to 3 days. For longer storage, you can freeze the bread. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil before freezing. Thaw at room temperature before serving.

Q: Can I make the dough ahead of time? A: Yes, you can prepare the dough and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight. This slow fermentation process can enhance the flavor. Just make sure to bring the dough to room temperature before shaping and baking.

Q: What if I don’t have a baking sheet? A: You can use a pizza stone or even an oven-safe cast-iron skillet as an alternative.

Q: Can I add cheese to the dough? A: Absolutely! Adding shredded cheese like mozzarella or parmesan to the dough can create a delicious cheesy bread.

Happy Baking!

Enjoy making and savoring this delightful homemade Crusty Italian Bread. It’s sure to become a favorite in your household!

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