Just Italian Bread

"This is a basic free form loaf of simple, delicious Italian Bread. I make it regularly, and have never messed it up--which is saying a lot;-) Substitute a cup of whole wheat or spelt flour for one of the cups of all-purpose for a heartier flavor and more nutritional value. This bread is definitely best on day of baking; like French bread, it goes stale after the first day. Use any left-over to make dry bread-crumbs for other recipes. From Confident Cooking Breads and Rolls."
photo by esmyandy photo by esmyandy
photo by esmyandy
photo by Serah B. photo by Serah B.
Ready In:
3hrs 10mins
1 loaf




  • Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Cover and leave in warm place until frothy--approximately 5-10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, sift 3 cups flour with salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center.
  • Pour yeast/water mixture, Agave, oil, and 1 cup extra water into the well.
  • Using a wooden spoon, stir until mixture is well-combined and forms a rough ball. Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface, and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Add extra flour as necessary to form a smooth ball.
  • Place dough in large, lightly oiled bowl. Brush surface of dough with oil. Cover and leave to rise in warm place for about 1 hour or until well risen.
  • Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal.
  • Punch down dough and knead for 1 minute. Shape dough into smooth ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Slightly flatten top.
  • Using a sharp knife, slash a criss-cross/checkerboard pattern into the top of the dough. Cover and leave to rise in warm place for about 1 hour or until well risen.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F Place a shallow baking dish containing 2 cups of water in the bottom of the oven to help bread form a hard crust.
  • Brush dough with glaze of water and salt; sprinkle with cornmeal or flour.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes or until base of bread sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Questions & Replies

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  1. Awesome bread! Easy to work with the dough. I added crushed red pepper and Italian herbs. One oh the best bread recipes I've tried, and I have tried many. This one I'm printing out for my recipe book. Thanks for the awesome recipe!
  2. This bread was delicious! I was looking for recipe for a round bread since I didn't have a loaf pan and this one was perfect! It was my first time baking bread and I am totally hooked! I love how the outside was crusty and the inside was chewy and thick. Thanks Serah!
  3. Excellent bread! Followed instructions, except that I kneaded the dough in my mixer. I baked the loaf on stones on the lowest shelf of the oven with two small containers of water on either side. The result was a pretty loaf with a great crust and a lovely crumb. I have a small portion left for what I know will be wonderful French toast. Thank you, Serah!


I'm an ethical vegan, atheist, wife and stay-at-home mother of a 7 year old DD and 1 year old DS. I have also been known to hug a tree from time to time, but I don't do it professionally. I love life, walk around in awe of the universe, and am always made happier by things that smell delicious. Like pumpkin pie spice. And turmeric. We've been vegan since Fall '08, and are just starting to feel like we know the tricks of the trade...and Recipezaar has certainly made the transition easier. Yey Recipezaar!
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