Best Ever Italian Bread

Recipe by charps
READY IN: 3hrs 15mins




  • Stir the yeast into lukewarm water and set aside.
  • Combine 5 cups flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the yeast mixture, remaining water and olive oil. Using a dough hook attachment, mix on lowest speed of electric mixer (stir setting on a KitchenAid) until a dough starts to form, adding more flour as needed. Knead on low speed (2 on a KitchenAid) for 7 minutes. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and need by hand for 1 to 2 minutes, or until a smooth, firm, elastic dough is formed.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and spray the dough with a thin coating of cooking spray. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to proof in a warm place for 1½ hours or until doubled in size. I usually put mine in a SLIGHTLY warmed oven.
  • Remove the plastic wrap, punch down and flatten the rounded dough with the heel of your hand. Roll the dough up tightly, sealing the seam well after each roll.
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F and place an empty baking pan on bottom rack. This will be used later to create steam.
  • Place the dough on a inverted baking sheet that has been dusted with flour. Cover with a towel, for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  • Brush the dough with the egg white, and then slash the dough lengthwise about 1/4-inch deep in three spots.
  • Place the pan of dough on the top rack, and pour a large cup of water into the warmed baking pan on the bottom rack.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until a hollow thud is heard when tapping the bottom of the bread. Allow the bread to cool before slicing.