One of the most pleasurable foods in the world is a warm and crusty Italian bread fresh from the oven. I used to reserve this for times when dining out at restaurants that offer this, but decided that with three little ones at home it would be simpler to make it at home than try to dine out! I was amazed how quickly and simply this can be done, and I usually make this recipe for my family once or twice per week now. This recipe yields two small loaves, so feel free to halve it if you’re feeding a smaller group, or double it if the whole extended family is coming for dinner!
Quick & Easy Italian Bread
- 8 Cups White flour
- 4 Tsp Yeast
- 2 Tsp Sea salt
- 3 Cups Warm water
- 1 Tbsp Olive oil Optional
- Fresh rosemary Optional
- Kalamata olives Optional
- In a stand mixer with the kneading hook attachment in place, combine 7 cups of flour, yeast and salt. Slowly mix dry ingredients together, and then slowly add in 3 cups warm water. Knead on low speed for 10 minutes.
- Use spatula on sides of mixer bowl to ensure it is thoroughly mixed. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave out on counter for two hours.
- Preheat oven to 450 with pizza stone on the top rack and oven safe dish of water on bottom rack.
- On the counter or a rolling mat, spread one cup of flour out and scrape dough from mixing bowl onto surface.
- Split into two balls, and gently fold over several times to shape into the desired loaf shape.
- Optional: if you would like to add rosemary or olives to your loaf, fold those ingredients in at this stage while forming the loaves.
- Let sit for 30 minutes while oven heats up.
- Optional: brush the top of loaves with olive oil. This will result in a slightly crisper, golden brown surface. Without it, you will get a more traditional, chewy crust. Both are great, and sometimes I do one each way for variety!
- Using a spatula or pizza peel, move the loaves onto the stone and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove entire stone carefully with quality oven mitts and sit down in a doubled towel to avoid burning your countertops.
- Let sit for at least 5 minutes then slice or tear and enjoy! I like to serve mine with olive oil and crushed black pepper for dipping.