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Soft Italian Style Bread Recipe For Beginners

5 from 2 votes

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You can make your own Italian bread for a fraction of the cost of store-bought loaves. This somewhat rustic recipe for Italian Bread gives you a lovely soft crust and a tender crumb. This is a great recipe for beginning bakers!

sliced Italian loaf on wooden cutting board

There are few things in life as satisfying as pulling a fresh baked loaf of homemade bread out of the oven.

Unless it’s pulling 2 loaves out of the oven…

The rhythmic push-turn-fold of the kneading process is very therapeutic for many.

Me included.

The simplicity of this soft Italian style bread is beautiful to behold.

Simple ingredients.

Simple process.

Simply delicious.

It’s a really good beginner recipe if you’re new to bread baking.

But it’s good enough to be in your baking rotation every few weeks.

It’s great for cheesy garlic bread.

It’s my go-to for Lunch on a Loaf.

It’s spectacular for sopping up Marinara Sauce.

And, dare I say, perfect for French Toast!

This somewhat rustic recipe for Italian Bread gives you a lovely soft crust and a tender crumb.

Which is a nice change from the artisan loaves I also love.

A neat trick to keep the crust soft is to cover your loaves with a tea towel after you take them out of the oven.

That helps to keep the moisture in the bread as they cool.

We’re going to use that technique with this recipe.

So grab you apron and let’s get started!

sliced Italian Bread on wooden cutting board

Soft Italian Bread Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4-6 cups unbleached all purpose flour or
  • 2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, divided

Instructions

Let’s start by heating the water.

In a small saucepan heat the water just to a simmer. Add 2 Tablespoons of the butter (not all of it) and let it melt.

Set it aside to cool off a little. You don’t want it warmer than body temperature.

So stick your finger in it to test. If it feels hot, it’s too warm.

When the water has cooled and the butter is melted we’ll move on to the next step.

Go grab a large mixing bowl. In that large bowl put 4 cups flour, the yeast, the salt, and the sugar.

dry ingredients for Italian bread in mixing bowl
dry ingredients

Use a dough whisk and mix them together.

Now pour the water/butter mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir that in well with a spoon or a Danish dough hook.

I prefer my dough hook. It’s so much easier to mix up bread dough with that than with a spoon.

Add flour a little at a time and mix until you have a soft and shaggy dough.

soft dough in mixing bowl with Danish dough hook
soft and shaggy dough

OR mix everything up in the bowl of a stand mixer on low speed.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until you get an elastic dough that’s not too sticky, about 8 to 10 minutes.

OR use the dough hook attachment on your mixer and knead for 5 to 8 minutes.

Coat your mixing bowl with olive oil.

Form the dough into a ball and put it in the oiled bowl, turning to grease the top.

Italian bread dough in oiled bowl
remember to turn it over to oil the top

Cover bowl with a damp bread cloth or plastic wrap and put in a warm draft-free place to rise until doubled, about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.

Italian bread dough in mixing bowl after 1st rise
doubled in size

After the dough has doubled, punch it down and turn out onto your counter top.

Divide the Italian Bread dough into 2 equal-ish pieces. You can use a kitchen scale to be precise, or just eyeball it like I do. A slight difference in size isn’t enough to affect baking times.

Press the dough out into a rectangle with your hands or a rolling pin.

Fold in the 2 short sides slightly and then roll the dough up from the bottom into a log.

Put a little tension on it as you roll to keep it tight.

Pinch the seam together and place the log seam side down on a greased or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Tuck the ends under.

Do the same with the other piece of dough.

If you are using bannetons, place the log seam side up and pinch the seam together.

Italian bread dough seam side up in bennetons
seam side up in bannetons

Cover the dough with a damp bread cloth and place back in the warm spot to rise.

You’ll let it rise until doubled again, but this time it should only take about 35 to 45 minutes.

Italian bread dough in bannetons after 2nd rise
doubled again

20 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 350 F.

If using bannetons, turn the loaves out onto a baking sheet.

Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter and brush over the top of each loaf. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if you want to be a little fancy.

I love using my cast iron butter melting pot. Just pop it into the oven while it’s preheating, and when you’re ready for it it’s melted!

With a sharp knife or a bakers lame, make a few slashes across the top of the dough.

Italian bread dough on baking sheet buttered and slashed
buttered and slashed…I need a new blade in my lame…

You can bake this Italian Bread on the baking sheets or on a pizza stone or baking stone.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the crust is a lovely golden brown.

After baking, transfer the Italian Bread to wire cooling racks.

Brush the remaining melted butter over the tops of the loaves. Then cover with a clean, dry tea towel to help keep the steam in and create that soft crust.

Adding that second coating of butter, also gives an almost croissant like taste to the crust as well.

It’s pretty amazing. Just sayin…

Allow to cool completely before slicing.

baked Italian bread on wooden cutting board
I managed to get a picture before it got sliced…

I really don’t know why I always feel the need to put that last line. It never happens at my house, lol.

Did I mention it’s also wonderful still warm slathered in butter?

Cuz it is!

More delicious bread recipes you should try:

Soft Italian Style Bread

This homemade Italian Bread recipe gives a lovely soft buttery crust and a tender crumb.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Rising times 2 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 2 loaves
Calories 1170 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4-6 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 4 Tablespoons butter

Instructions
 

  • In a small saucepan heat the water just to a simmer. Add 2 Tablespoons of the butter (not all of it) and let it melt. Set it aside to cool off a little. You don’t want it warmer than body temperature.
  • Go grab a large mixing bowl. In that bowl put 4 cups flour, the yeast, the salt, and the sugar and whisk together.
  • Now pour the water/butter mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir that in well with a spoon or dough hook.
  • Add flour a little at a time and mix until you have a soft dough.
  • OR mix everything up in a stand mixer.
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is elastic and not too sticky, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • OR use the dough hook attachment on your mixer and knead for 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Coat your mixing bowl with olive oil.
  • Form the dough into a ball and put it in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top.
  • Cover with a damp bread cloth or plastic wrap and put in a warm draft-free place to rise until doubled, about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.
  • After the dough has doubled, punch it down and turn out onto your counter top.
  • Divide the Italian Bread dough into 2 equal pieces.
  • Press the dough out into a rectangle with your hands or a rolling pin. Fold in the 2 short sides slightly and then tightly roll the dough up from the bottom into a log.
  • Pinch the seam together and place the log seam side down on a greased or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Tuck the ends under.
  • Do the same with the other piece of dough.
  • If you are using bannetons, place the log seam side up and pinch the seam together.
  • Cover the dough with a damp bread cloth and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled. About 35 – 45 minutes.
  • 20 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 350 F.
  • If using bannetons, turn the loaves out onto a baking sheet.
  • Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter and brush over the top of each loaf.
  • With a sharp knife or a bakers lame, make a few slashes across the top of the dough.
  • You can bake this bread on the baking sheets or on a pizza stone or baking stone.
  • Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the crust is a lovely golden brown.
  • After baking, transfer to wire cooling racks.
  • Brush the remaining melted butter over the tops of the loaves. Then cover with a clean, dry tea towel to help keep the steam in and create that soft crust.
  • Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Nutrition

Serving: 1loafCalories: 1170kcalCarbohydrates: 204gProtein: 28gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 15gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 3710mgPotassium: 313mgFiber: 8gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 705IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 57mgIron: 12mg
Keyword homemade, Italian
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on March 12th, 2022

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