Easy Crusty Italian Bread

Crusty Italian bread

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My friend, Debra Wolcott , used to use her bread machine to make the most delicious Italian Loaf. It had a wonderful sweet and savory taste. I truly miss that bread and am always on the lookout for recipes that taste similar.

Sooooo…today we’re going to talk about how to recreate that amazing flavor you remember!

Crusty Italian bread

Crusty Italian Bread

Savor the flavors of Italy with our Crusty Italian Bread recipe. Learn the secrets to a golden-brown crust and airy texture in this step-by-step guide.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
resting 45 minutes
Course Bread
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2


  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • cornmeal for dusting


  • Combine yeast, water, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 cup of flour in mixing bowl.
  • Allow to rest for 10 minutes until the yeast starts bubbling and giving off a "yeasty" smell.
  • Add the remaining flour, sugar, and salt and mix until the flour is incorporated. Add the olive oil and knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and satiny.
  • Place the dough in an oiled bowl, coating the dough all around with the oil.
  • Cover with plastic wrap or a wet tea towel and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in volume -- 45 minutes to an hour or more, depending on temperature.
  • Punch down the dough, roll into desired loaf shape, cover with plastic again and allow to rise until doubled in volume.
  • Place a bowl of water in the stove and pre-heat to 425°. Turn down to 400 when you put the bread in.
  • Bake 20-30 minutes, depending on shape of loaves.
  • Bread is finished when it makes a hollow sound when you thump on the bottom with your thumb.
Keyword bread, crusty, italian, Quick

Frequent Asked Questions:

Can I use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast in this recipe?

Yes, you can substitute instant yeast for active dry yeast. Use the same quantity and follow the same steps, as instant yeast doesn’t require proofing.

Can I use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour?

Absolutely! You can use either bread flour or all-purpose flour in this recipe. Both work well, and your bread will still turn out wonderfully crusty and delicious.

How long should I knead the dough for?

Knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and satiny. This step is crucial for developing the gluten structure in the bread.

Can I let the dough rise for more than an hour?

Yes, you can. The rising time may vary depending on the temperature. Allow the dough to double in volume, which usually takes 45 minutes to an hour, or longer in cooler temperatures.

What does “punch down the dough” mean?

“Punching down” is a gentle deflating of the risen dough to release excess carbon dioxide. After this step, reshape the dough before allowing it to rise again for the final proofing.

How can I tell if the bread is fully baked?

The bread is done when it produces a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom with your thumb. Also, the crust should be golden brown. Baking time may vary based on the shape of the loaves.

Why do I need to preheat the oven with a bowl of water inside?

The steam created by the water helps develop a crisp crust on the bread. It’s a technique commonly used to achieve that perfect, crusty Italian bread texture.

Can I make this bread ahead of time and freeze it?

Yes, you can! Once baked and cooled, wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil before freezing. Thaw at room temperature when ready to enjoy.


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