Mom's Italian Bread

Makes 4 loaves*


My mom spent my childhood selling endless loaves of her famous Italian bread for charity at every school fair, PTA event, church gathering, and Tupperware demonstration in Connecticut. She donated her time, energy, and domestic abilities to raise this money—a valuable lesson I learned early on. More than that, she even stuck a recipe card inside every loaf of bread, so that the recipe was shared with everyone. A true saint.


Mom claims that this recipe which people used to beg for was given to her—and only her—by one of her mother's good friends. Mom recalled this story and her "chosen one" status with me with so much drama I could only ... relate? You can now consider yourselves all chosen ones, as I'm sharing this famous recipe with you! Consider this a personal recipe card from the Pelosi family to you.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:


4 cups warm water

4 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

⅓ cup sugar

⅓ cup olive oil, plus more to grease bowl

2 tablespoons salt

8 cups all-purpose flour** plus more for surface


WHAT YOU'LL DO:


Preheat oven to 200º, then turn off.


In the biggest bowl you own, combine 4 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast with 4 cups warm water. Water should be warm to the touch, hot tap water will do. Mix until yeast dissolves.


Add ⅓ cup sugar, ⅓ cup olive oil, and 2 tablespoons salt and combine.


Mix in 8 cups all-purpose flour with a wooden spoon until dough forms into a shaggy ball. Flour a clean surface and plop out your dough. Knead for 10 minutes until dough forms a smooth ball.


NOTE: Depending on the humidity in your air, this recipe may take a lot more flour than 8 cups. Keep adding until you reach the shaggy texture! See below step-by-steps for visuals.


Lightly grease a clean bowl with olive oil or vegetable oil, then place dough in and flip over so the entire ball is covered in oil.


Place a damp towel over the bowl and transfer to the preheated oven. Let dough rise 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.

To test the rise, stick a finger in the dough. If the hole stays, my mom says you have done the job right. This is a rule I have used so many times in my life for a number of different endeavors—thanks, mom!


Transfer dough to a floured surface and punch it back down to its original size (should take less than a minute). Move the dough back to the greased bowl and let rise 1-2 more hours again on the countertop (no oven required).


After your second rise is complete, transfer the dough to a floured surface and punch down again, then cut into 4 pieces and place them in 4 oil-greased loaf pans. You can use other shapes of pans, or even bake freestyle on a sheet. See below for pics of what those options look like!


Cover pans with damp towels and rest for 30 minutes until dough rises and fills out the pans. Bake at 400º for 30-35 minutes, making sure to check on them as they bake.


HOT (literally) TIP: Buy an oven thermometer so you always get accurate reads on what your oven temperature actually is. Ovens often lie and cannot be trusted, and an oven thermometer works as a polygraph test of sorts. I like this one.


Serve your bread hot, room temperature, toasted—endless options! Eating it warm out of the oven with a slab of butter really takes me back!


Freeze any extra loaves, as they defrost perfectly. To defrost, either leave on the counter overnight or heat at 400º for a few minutes.


Loaves of bread make a GREAT gift to friends as well, so be sure to share the love!


*Do not halve this recipe! Wrap any extra loaves on plastic wrap tightly and freeze.


**Gluten free All-Purpose 1:1 flour can be used.


Make it step-by-step with me below!

  1. Grab the largest bowl you own. I mean it.

2. In the biggest bowl you own, combine 4 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast with 4 cups warm water. Water should be warm to the touch, hot tap water will do. Mix until yeast dissolves.

4. Add ⅓ cup sugar, ⅓ cup olive oil, and 2 tablespoons salt and combine.

5. Mix in 8 cups all-purpose flour with a wooden spoon until dough forms into a shaggy ball. Flour a clean surface and plop out your dough.


NOTE: Depending on the humidity in your air, this recipe may take a lot more flour than 8 cups. Keep adding until you reach the shaggy texture!

6. Knead for 10 minutes until dough forms a smooth ball.

7. Lightly grease a clean bowl with olive oil or vegetable oil, then place dough in and flip over so the entire ball is covered in oil.

8. Place a damp towel over the bowl and transfer to the preheated oven. Using a preheated the turned off oven as a space to let your dough rise is a great idea because it creates a perfectly warm environment for your dough and also keeps it out of the way and free of gusty drafts.

9. Let dough rise 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.

10. Stick a finger in the dough to test to see if it has risen correctly.

11. My mom says that if the hole stays, you have done the job right. This is a rule I have used for so many endeavors in my life—thanks, mom!

12. Transfer dough to a floured surface and punch back down to its original size (should take less than a minute). Move the dough back to the greased bowl and let rise 1-2 more hours again on countertop (no stove necessary).

13. After your second rise is complete, transfer the dough to a floured surface and punch down again, then cut into 4 pieces.

14. Place your dough in 4 oil-greased loaf pans.

15. You can use other shapes of pans (like the round one pictured), or even bake freestyle on a sheet (pictured).

16. Cover pans with damp towels and rest for 30 minutes until dough rises and fills out the pans. Bake at 400º for 30-35 minutes, making sure to check on them as they bake.


HOT (literally) TIP: Buy an oven thermometer so you always get accurate reads on what your oven temperature actually is. Ovens often lie and cannot be trusted, and an oven thermometer works as a polygraph test of sorts. I like this one.

17. Look how gorgeous our girls are!!!

18. And the smell, I can't wait for you to smell this bread!

19. Serve your bread hot, room temperature, toasted—endless options! Eating it warm out of the oven with a slab of butter really takes me back!

20. I hope I made you proud, Mom!

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