Basic Italian Bread


Makes two medium loaves


1 1/2 cups warm water
2 pkg dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t sugar
2 T olive oil
flour for kneading

Spoon Mage™ Notes:

Italian bread dough is a superb choice for pizza and vice versa. This pizza dough is also wonderful for making a couple loaves of bread.

When a bread recipe calls for adding yeast to warm water, it means water that is approximately 105-110°F.

There is no need to use a thermometer. Just dip your clean finger into the water. You are 98.6°F. If the water is a little warmer than you, it is fine. Do not use hot water as that will kill the yeast.

Do not drag your measuring cup into the flour when measuring. Lightly spoon the flour into the cup without packing.

The amount of flour you will need at kneading will vary depending upon how you go about measuring. If your dough is a little wet, it will need more flour. If it is a little dry, you may need to dampen your hands while kneading. Don’t fuss it too much and just do what needs to be done.


Warm the water, add the yeast to the water, and stir until it dissolves.

While the yeast is activating, place the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and stir to combine. Make a well in the center

When the yeasty water starts to bubble, add it and the olive oil to the well. Stir to combine.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead well for approximately 10 minutes – or until the dough responds by immediately rising when you poke a small hole with your finger. Add extra flour as needed.

Form the dough into a ball.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl, rub the top of the dough ball with your oily hands. Cover with a tea towel and place inside a warm place away from any drafts. Your oven – not turned on! – works well.

In about an hour, the dough will have doubled in size. If it is not yet doubled, wait another 20 minutes or so.

Punch the dough to deflate it, remove from the bowl, and separate into two smaller dough balls.

Roll or shape each ball into a loaf and place on a single baking sheet, two inches apart, that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Let the loaves rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Lightly spritz the loaves with water and place in the preheated oven for five minutes.

Remove the loaves, spritz with water a second time, reduce the oven temperature to 375°F, and return the loaves to the oven to bake another 35 minutes or until golden brown. The loaves are done if, when you thump them with a finger, they sound hollow.

Turn out onto a cookie rack to rest for five minutes, then slice and serve with just about any meal like Great Northern and Spinach Minestrone or Roasted Garlic and Short Ribs in Tawny Port Sauce.

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