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Italian Bread

My family laughs at me when I tell them that this poor dough never has a change for an hour, but it makes up for all that punching down with its texture and good taste. My mother-in-law taught me how to make this the recipe's been passed down to my daughter and two granddaughters.
  • Total Time
    Prep: 20 min. + rising Bake: 40 min.
  • Makes
    2 loaves (16 slices each)


  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 3 cups warm water (110° to 115°), divided
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 8 to 10 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted


  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Add the sugar, shortening, salt, egg, remaining water and 4 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Shape each portion into a loaf. Place seam side down on greased baking sheets.
  • With a sharp knife, make four shallow diagonal slashes across the top of each loaf. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Bake at 350° for 37-42 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Brush with butter.
Nutrition Facts
1 slice: 135 calories, 2g fat (1g saturated fat), 8mg cholesterol, 227mg sodium, 25g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch.
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  • John
    Feb 2, 2021

    Awesome! Made this bread for the the first time and it is delicious. It raised so well, I could have made 3 loves. After the second rise I needed to punch it down again and reform the loves, place on two sheets and let it rise again.

  • Leah
    Oct 15, 2020

    I just made one loaf, switched out olive oil for the shortening and added rosemary. I live in tropical weather, and used up a cup and a half more of flour for half a recipe. the dough rose vigorously and the wonderful smell carried through my whole apartment. It made a huge and tall, golden football of a loaf with a tender crumb. Can't wait to make more.

  • Robert
    Apr 7, 2020

    Baked up half a batch, used my own experience with dough to gauge stiffness. I actually prefer a looser dough at the beginning for better moisture in the finished product. Pretty happy with this recipe, except I've not tasted it.

  • Lee
    Jan 5, 2020

    I made this today for the first time. Used my KitchenAid to mix

  • Gary's.cmh
    Aug 21, 2016

    Fabulous recipe! Try this, you will love the results. Can also be divided into smaller portions for sub buns/rolls. Suggested deviations from the recipe as written: bloom the yeast by combining the yeast, sugar and one cup water in a separate container. Stir this vigorously and allow to rest for 5 - 10 minutes while you combine other ingredients. Perfectly fine to sub olive, veggie or another oil for the shortening listed. Do not let the loosely-goosey flour amount throw you. If you have been baking bread for a while you will know how much flour is enough as the dough comes together during kneading. If not, that's okay, I can describe your desired results. Start with five cups flour and add the water, egg, etc and stir well in a bowl. Toss in the bloomed yeast when foamy and ready and combine well, adding perhaps a half to a whole cup more of flour as you do so. You should end up with a very messy looking, shaggy and fairly sticky glop. Turn this out onto a floured surface, flour your hands, and begin to knead. Add flour as you go but be conservative! You're looking to get JUST past the point of stickiness but NO further! I ended up using maybe 7ish cups of flour, but your experience may differ from this. I would expect ten minutes of kneading, and once the dough is barely sticking to your hands, you're done! This dough rises vigorously, unless the kitchen is very cold, it will have more than doubled in an hour. Covered in an oiled bowl, placed in the unlit oven is best. Punch down, divide,knead a tiny bit more and shape your loaves. These will get big FAST in a warm environment! Start peeking after 30 minutes of baking, all ovens are different. Your kitchen will smell fantastic as these bake and you will be amazed at the result. Truly a winner!

  • lojig18
    Feb 15, 2016

    I used extra virgin olive oil instead of shortening and add 3 tbsp of flaxseed meal to the mix.

  • valsbaking
    Jan 24, 2016

    Awesome bread! Light and very tasty. Personally, I found no problem with the recipe as written. It turned out great! Guess you just need to know what "stiff dough" is. LOL

  • melbirdwell
    Jan 8, 2016

    Very good recipe. Light soft bread. We added Italian herbs to the butter after baking. This is a keeper!

  • FoodCommando
    Jan 2, 2016

    I hate it when people write recipes incorrectly. i.e. your step 1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Add the sugar, shortening, salt, egg, remaining water and 4 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.Really?

  • innkeepper
    Dec 23, 2015

    I love making bread. I made half the recipe with four cups of flour and made two absolutely beautifully light and large loaves for an Italian cuisine dinner party. The guests enjoyed it so much that they insisted on taking home the second loaf.