Homemade Italian Bread

So…

…remember the sauce recipe from last week?

You know.  This sauce recipe. Sidenote: You all refer to it as “sauce”, too.  Which warms my heart.  And the heart of my husband, who I figured as an Italian would call it “gravy”.  He doesn’t, and as a matter of fact feels very strongly about the subject.  But that’s another story.

Anyway, when you have all that beautiful sauce in your life, you really ought to have a spectacular bread to mop it up with.  Or is it just me?

No.  I didn’t think so.

I’ve been playing with various bread recipes and preparation techniques for a long time and, according to Rob, I’m getting kinda good at this bread business.  And so, allow me to bend your ear and teach you the most important of all bread baking techniques.  Ready?

Here goes:

LEAVE IT ALONE.

When the dough is rising? Leave it alone.  When it’s rising again? Leave it alone.  And after you form the loaf and make your little slashes in it? You guessed it.

Just leave it.  The dough will use its own intuitive wisdom and everything will turn out just fine.

And here’s the secret to a fabulous crust: After painting with egg wash, spray the loaf liberally with water.  Then, after placing it in the oven, drop (or if you’re me, toss) several ice cubes onto the oven floor and immediately shut the door.  As they melt they’ll give off steam, which is what makes for a nice, crusty loaf.  A few minutes later, toss another handful in and shut the door quickly.

And that’s it! After a mere 30 minutes more you’ll have a hot, steamy, fragrant loaf of freshly baked bread.

Your family will weep tears of joy, your spouse will demand that the two of you renew your vows, angels will sing.  And you will pat yourself on the back for being a clever baker who knew enough to leave the dough alone.

Have you ever tried baking your own bread? If not, why not? If so, what’s your favorite recipe? Talk to me!

Sharing with: Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, 33 Shades of Green, All The Small Stuff, This Chick Cooks, Trendy Treehouse , Nothing But Country , Designs my Gollum, 504 Main & The Lady Behind The Curtain

40 Comments

Jen Burden

Sounds and looks lovely! Before I had my second I was trying to perfect my recipe fir whole wheat pita bread. Call me crazy, but something about making bread made me feel in tune with my ancestors who came before me. I really enjoy doing it!

Jen:)

Reply
Mrs. Jen B

Yes. You completely hit the nail on the head. I feel exactly the same way!

Reply
Mrs. Jen B

Ooooh now you’ve got me intrigued! :) Especially at the idea of rosemary & garlic. Yum!

Reply

My husband is the bread maker in our family. He makes great buttermilk biscuits as well. I’m going to show him your recipe. Thanks for sharing!

Reply
Mrs. Jen B

For reals. I might do a vlog about it. I think everyone should try at least once – especially since store bought bread has so many preservatives. I’m not usually all crazy about eating healthy, healthful food but I feel really good when I make and eat this. Plus it’s cheaper. Always something to keep in mind!

Reply

Wow – that is really impressive. I think my husband would pass out if he came home to homemade bread!! LOl!

Reply
Mrs. Jen B

Ha! All the more reason to surprise him! ;) Just make sure you don’t have any sharp edges or corners near where he might fall, okay?

Reply

I am a happy camper….. you have taught me something with the ice-cubes! Thank you! Going to give it a try with black olives Yummy…. my mouth is already watering!

Reply

I had a couple of homemade bread disasters when I was first married, bad enough that I’ve been afraid to make it since, but this looks so beautiful and delicious that I might have to give it another try.

Reply

So, I don’t have a stand mixer… I always over knead the bread. (I do it by hand, since I have no choice!) Any suggestions??? Thanks!!!

Reply
Mrs. Jen B

Well you can over knead with the stand mixer, too. ;) A good rule of thumb is just to knead until the dough is uniform in consistency and smooth/elastic. You don’t want any sticky bits. Try not to beat it up too much while kneading. I’m sure I’ve under kneaded in the past, in fact I’d rather err on the side of too little than too much, but it’s turned out okay. Let me know how it works for you when you try it again!

Reply

Mmm nothing is better than fresh homemade bread! This looks fantastic! Love your blog, new follower! xoxo

Reply

Oh, my!! That looks so yummy. I’ll be trying this. :)

I regularly make my own bread. I use the Grandmother’s Bread recipe from chickensintheroad.com. I’ve tried the 5 Minute a Day bread, and I love their cheese bread, but I prefer the Grandmother bread for its versatility.

Reply

Oh my word!! I am going to have to try this. My mother is so good at making bread and honestly, there is nothing quite like homemade bread fresh from the oven…and don’t even get me started on how good the house smells!!! I NEVER would have imagined to drop ice cubes in the oven. It makes sense though. Thank you so much for sharing! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
-April

Reply

Thank You So MUCH for joining me last week for Cast Party Wednesday. I hope you will come back tomorrow and share more of your recipes with us.
Thanks,
I hope to see you there!

Reply

I will be trying this recipe on Saturday! You can thank Alison @Mama Wants This for sharing the link to this post. Also? I think everyone needs a yummy bread to dip in their sauce!

Reply

Great bread… Like the ice-cubes idea, although be careful because when you open the oven at the 5 minute mark to add more ice cubes, you won’t be ready to the steam burn your face will get compared to the dry heat you’re accustomed to.

Reply
Mrs. Jen B

Oh definitely! Although I’ve never generated enough steam to do that. But I guess it would depend on how much ice. :)

Reply

Awesome bread recipe. I used instant yeast and the rise was excellent. Nice chew to the exterior and soft inside. Delicious! I bake a Pane De Altimura (Semolina Sourdough Biga) which is a southern Italy traditional bread that has incredible texture and flavor. I would be happy to share the time consuming recipe if you would like. Its well worth the time and effort.

Reply

Just found your blog and made this last night. I do tons of baking but was always afraid of making bread. It urged out great. Thanks for all the tips! I used a basil infused olive oil. And topped with rosemary, basil and a touch of oregano before baking. Soo good!! Thanks for sharing!!

Reply

I started making bread as a way to cut cost but have turned my family into bread snobs. They won’t eat store bought anything. I have tried several different kinds and can’t wait to give this one a whirl. My favorite to make is challah. Baking something wonderful for my family is my way of distressing.

Reply

Just baked my first loaf of bread, using your recipe! Turned out awesome. Wait until my wife gets home from work and the smell hits her! The spritzing with water and the ice cubes are a nice technique to get that awesome crust!

Thanks!

Reply

HELP!!! I absolutely love cooking and baking but I am very new to bread baking. The few times I have tried have been awful. The first 2 times the bread (well, supposed to be bread) didn’t brown and was rock hard on the outside and very dense on the inside. The last couple of times its browned beautifully but was still very hard on the outside and somewhat ‘flavorless”. What in the world am I doing wrong?? I am going to try your recipe on my next attempt it sounds and looks delicious:)

Reply

THANK YOU!! Awesome bread recipe!! I have made it at least 4 times now and it always comes out great and goes oohhh so good with the Sunday sauce! :-)

Reply
Edith Manak

Thanks so much for this recipe, and I, being a full Italian on both sides of my parents, DO NOT like to hear our wonderful sauce referred to as “gravy”. Frankly, I grew up around all Italians and never heard it called that. I will try the bread as soon as we get temperatures above zero – hard to keep the house warm enough!

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>