Crusty Italian Bread

Okay, I admit it.  I’m a little bread crazy.

(But seriously, it’s so easy!  Please trust me.)

I think I’ve converted a few of you out there to bread makers (Kristy – I am so proud of you!) and that makes me very, very happy.  So I’m just going to keep making bread and hoping more of you will give it a try.

This week’s bread was a simple Italian loaf to go with Sunday dinner.  We were having homemade spaghetti with some friends, so a crusty loaf sounded just about perfect.

The Recipe:

Crusty Italian Bread, adapted from Food.com

1 package active dry yeast

1 ¼ c warm water

2 t sugar

3 c bread flour

1 t salt

cornmeal

1 egg yolk

In a large bowl, add water and sugar.  Dissolve yeast in mixture and let sit until bubbly (about 5-10 minutes).  Mix in flour and salt, and mix in until dough starts to form.  If too sticky, add a bit more flour.

Turn out onto flat surface and knead for 6-8 minutes or until smooth and elastic.  (Or let your dough hook do the work – if you have a KitchenAid.)  Put dough into an oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with a thick towel, and let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled in size, or about 1.5-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Remove dough onto a floured surface.  Punch down and shape into 2 equal round loaves.  )If you own a baking stone or unglazed ceramic tile, dust lightly with cornmeal and put into preheated oven.)  Put loaves on a peel (large wooden spatula, if you have one), also lightly dusted with cornmeal, or on a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.  Cover and let rise again for 40 minutes. Loaves will about double again.

In a small dish, add egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water.  Slit tops of risen bread 3 or 4 times, making slits that are a quarter of an inch deep.  With a brush, paint tops with egg wash.  If on a peel, slide loaves onto stone or tile; otherwise put cookie sheet in oven.

Bake for 10 minutes at 425°F.  Then lower heat to 400F and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until golden and baked through. To check if it’s done, thump the bottom of each loaf; if it sounds hollow, it’s done.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Since baking bread has become pretty easy for me, it was fun to try something new using the peel and the pizza stone.  (And we’re just lucky enough that Hubs has both.)  For those of you unsure what a peel is, here’s a pic:

For this recipe, I let the mixer do all the work for me.  So basically, all I had to do was dump in ingredients, keep an eye on it, and form balls.  Easy, peasy.

I don’t have an artistic finished picture, because we had company, and it just seemed weird to make everyone wait while I worked on getting the perfect picture.  So you get a ‘fresh outta the oven’ picture instead.

The bread turned out like I’d hoped: crusty-crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.  My only issue was that they needed a little more salt, to bring out the great flavor.  We used salted butter and that worked, too.

So, my friends, I’m just going to keep baking easy breads and encouraging you to do the same.

I promise you will never regret it.

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27 thoughts on “Crusty Italian Bread

  1. I LOVE crusty Italian bread! I have a bread maker because I’m lazy and unskilled (like Snooki), but who knew it could be so easy! I need to try this on a weekend when I have time to let the dough rise. Thanks for sharing!!

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  2. You are completely rocking the brad baking Courtney. Those loaves are GORGEOUS and look like they should be on some fancy schmancy artisan bakery shelf. Those are beauties! I’ve made gluten free bread as of recently. Does that count?

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  3. You’ll convert me soon enough!! I don’t know why I’m still so nervous to give it a try. This bread looks amazing though, and sounds like the best kind…crusty on the outside with a soft interior. My favorite!!

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  4. We’re bread-o-holics around here and take pride in making bread…well at least my better half the bread maker does. I enjoy eating the fruits of her labor. 🙂 Looks like two perfect loafs to me!

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  5. I’m with ya! I love to bake bread. And hearing a freshly-baked loaf crackle on a rack as it cools is music to my ears. Your 2 loaves here are about as perfect-looking as can be. Break out the butter and let’s get busy!

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  6. Okay.. I’m probably the only person that doesn’t bake bread here LOL. Maybe because I don’t eat a lot of bread. But I know my mother wants to start baking bread.. so I will email her this post 🙂

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  7. Look at you go! And thank you for the shout-out. I think you have brought me back around to making bread again. I actually pulled off a loaf today for our next adventure and it turned out great. I about fell over. Thanks for getting me over my fears!!! Now I’m going to have to try this one because I love a good Italian bread. Soooooo good!

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  8. No matter how hard I try to avoid my carbs…bread will do me in every time!! I can’t help it especially if its homemade! And I find too anyone I have over, who may say they are avoiding white flour/bread, digs in immediately!! So keep the bread recipes coming! And as for this one being Italian bread, I will definitely try your recipe out!!

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  9. The bread looks awesome! I need to invest in a kitchen aid mixer, it definitely helps. I made some homemade dough last week and overworked the dough…it was tough but still good.
    Would love to have you as my neighbor, our boys could play while we bake all day!

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  10. I can picture the sound it makes when you tear into this crunchy crust and chewy interior of the bread. How did you get it so crunchy on the outside. Did you spritz your interior of your stove? What secrets can you share about getting the crust crunchy?

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      • I think the problem is with my oven, it cannot maintain a high temperature. In Asia it is rare to even have a oven so at least I have one, it is just not good to bake bread in. I will just keep looking at your bread instead. yummy.

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  11. WOW, i cant believe that you baked bread on a wimp to go with the chowder. Your hubs must be glad that you got “bored”! lol

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  12. Currently attempting to make this. Everything was going great until I moved it for egg wash. After the second rise the loaves collapsed when I moved them. :(( Yeast is brand new. Any ideas as to why this is happening?

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    • Hi, Elise,

      I’m sorry to hear your dough collapsed. 😦 Where are you having the loaves rise? Sometimes, if it’s too warm, the yeast will overproduce and rise too much (causing collapse). Did it double or get even bigger than double? Hope I can help you out. ~ Courtney

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      • It doubled. I had it rise in my oven set to bread proof with a bowl of hot water on the bottom. It didn’t seem too warm. The finished product was very tasty, just very flat.

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      • Hmmm, I usually just set mine near the stove with it barely on – and a barely damp towel on top. I wonder if your yeast just got super happy in the oven. I’m not familiar with the ‘bread proof setting’ so I’m not sure what happened. At least it tasted good. 🙂

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  13. I would recommend editing your recipe. A singular “t” usually represents tablespoon, not teaspoon. Since you don’t capitalize anything in the recipe I interpreted it as tablespoon and used way more sugar and salt than necessary.

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    • Sorry to hear that it didn’t work out for you, Jenna. When I learned notation for recipes, t = teaspoon and T = Tablespoon. Unfortunately, this recipe only had teaspoons, so you never saw the capital T labeling. I’ve seen this same system over many blogs, so hopefully others haven’t had problems, too.

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