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Mom’s Italian Bread

I think Mom used to bake at least four of these tender loaves at once, and they never lasted long. She served the bread with every Italian meal. I love it toasted, too. —Linda Harrington, Windham, New Hampshire
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. + rising Bake: 20 min.
  • Makes
    2 loaves (12 slices each)


  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour


  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, salt and 3 cups flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in remaining flour to form a soft 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 floured surface; divide in half. Shape each portion into a loaf. Place each loaf seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°. With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across top of each loaf. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.
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Mom’s Italian Bread Tips

What makes Italian bread unique?

Italian bread is super soft and absorbent, making it perfect for soaking up sauces. This homemade bread has a light crust that’s not too hard or crunchy, so it works really well for making sandwich recipes, too!

What do you eat with Italian bread?

Italian bread is amazing dipped in olive oil or thick sauces. It pairs well with a flavorful Bolognese or a saucy chicken dish like chicken cacciatore.

How can I tell if my yeast is still active?

It's so important to test yeast! To see if your yeast is still active, dissolve 1 tsp of sugar into warm water and then mix in your active dry yeast. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. If the mixture becomes nice and foamy, you’re good to go!

My dough is taking forever to double! What’s going on?

Dough will rise slower or quicker depending on the temperature of your kitchen. When proofing homemade Italian bread, place it in a warm, humid environment if you can. It will help the yeast create carbon dioxide, which encourages the dough to expand. Find this tip and more in our ultimate bread baking guide.
Nutrition Facts
1 slice: 106 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 197mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 1g fiber), 3g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1-1/2 starch.
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Average Rating:
  • Kelly
    Jan 19, 2021

    I make many types of bread. This recipe is very simple (love the fact that there's no separate dissolving step for the yeast and water) and quick to get to the rising step. I make the dough in my KitchenAid stand mixer up to the point of kneading without dirtying up a lot of extra dishes. It turns out great every single time once you learn the baking time in your oven. Yes, you can make it in loaf pans if you prefer!

  • Margaret
    Jan 13, 2021

    Made this bread about 14,000 times since November 2020!! Love it! Can it be put into loaf pans??

  • Marcie
    Jan 6, 2021

    My kids and I like to try different recipes for breads. We have tried many. Just for the heck of it we decided to try this one and used it for a pizza dough. It made the best pizza and now it's the only dough we use for homemade pizza.

  • Vikki
    Dec 20, 2020

    Teaching myself to make bread. First try was too dense, and OVER cooked..baked 30 min. @ 400..( all ovens vary), brushed melted coconut oil on top too golden and crisp. Second time: PERFECTION! I mixed 115 degree cup of water, yeast, salt & sugar with whisk, & allowed to proof in bowl with saran over top, for 4 min., then poured into stand mixer bowl, before adding 3 cups of flour. ( deducted 4 tablespoons of unbleached APF, BEFORE using any, and sifted thru it all with a large spoon to add air. ( did not have a sifter) Used dough hook for all mixing, then mixed 3 -4 more min. after all flour added. Turned oven on and let it dough raise in oiled bowl for 1 hr., sitting on back of warm stove top, with light towel over. It more than doubled. Punched down and turned onto lightly floured board, kneaded for 6 min, cut in half, shaped into two loaves, made 4 cuts in each in each loaf, Baked on a EVOOed cold pizza stone on 400 degrees for 22min. Lightly golden. Beautiful! Hubby 100% Italian from Jersey, loved it..he said perfection. Started to sprinkle a touch of dried basil in mixture, but backed off..chickened out. But will do that next..debating on fresh.You cannot use EVOO, and expect a golden top, as EV does not brown is good for marinates, salads and mixing into foods..if using olive oil to brown, find bottle that says for saute', it is more processed. The recipe as it stands will not brown on top, as it was not meant to. Would love to post a picture..second batch turned out beautiful! VERY EASY RECIPE! Easy enough to make daily but would need to give a loaf away, as I do not eat white bread & hubby would end up as wide as he is tall. ?? gonna try with part whole wheat pastry flour.

  • Gina
    Dec 17, 2020

    I am a high school culinary teacher and all of my students have been successful with this recipe. We love it!

  • Georgette
    Sep 26, 2020

    Great base recipe! Used 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour and balance all purpose. Good texture, not heavy at all. My family love fresh bread. These Loaves will be gone by morning!

  • Jp
    Sep 9, 2020

    Excellent recipe turned out great

  • Linn
    Aug 30, 2020

    Made to go with Chili, would cook it 3-5 minuted longer next time cause its pale in color even though i put a wash of olive oil on top to try and brown it some. It is delicious and got eaten all up by the family!!! I will make it again but will add some spices to boost the flavor...

  • Natalie
    Aug 26, 2020

    This bread came out amazing!!!! It was my first time and I am so hooked!! My family is hooked! It makes 2 loaves, so I need to get baking. It is soft fluffy and slightly dense. It is perfect for dipping and sandwiches. I live in FL and my warm place for it to rise both times was in the very warm borderline hot garage....... It rose perfectly.... But while I baked it for 20 mins it did not reach golden brown... At 25 mins it was slightly golden... I left it for 30 mins and it just barley reached golden brown but the top was starting to darken.. so take it out at 25-28 mins if this happens..... But my 30 mins worked perfectly for 400F.....Next step for me is to figure out how to make the crust a little crisper... Maybe some water to make the oven steam before putting the dough into bake????

    Aug 19, 2020

    No fat in the recipe. Flat taste.