Easy Italian Bread


(serves 8)

  •  2 c hot water (tap hot, not boiling)

  • 2 ts bread yeast

  • 2 ts salt

  • 4 cups flour

  • 1 tbls olive oil

  • French baguette pan

 This is the easiest, most delicious bread recipe I have ever made and I rarely make anything else – it’s just that good.

 Pour the hot water into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir in gently and then add the salt. Stir in 2 cups of the flour into well blended and then the final 2 cups. The mixture should be wet with no flour remaining and no dry patches. If you make bread often you won’t recognize this at all. You’re aiming for something about the consistency of guacamole.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or until double in size (or more, it’s a very forgiving recipe!)

 Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F and have your pan handy.  Pour the olive oil over the dough (I never measure but it’s about a tablespoon)  dip your hands in it so that your fingers and palms are oily and then scoop your fingers down the side of the bowl, all around to separate it from the edge. Then scoop down and lift up with half of the dough. Gently pull it into a sausage about a foot long and place it in the pan (you don’t need to grease the pan). Repeat with the second half. The idea here is to handle the dough as little as possible so don’t worry about perfection.   Set aside until the oven is hot. When the oven hits 500 reduce it to 400 and put the bread pan in.   Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the crust is crunchy brown. Leave in the pan until cool enough to handle and then rock it gently to one side until it comes out.  Slice or tear the bread, serve with oil and balsamic or goat cheese or however you like it. It’s an incredibly versatile bread that is a favorite for potlucks as well.

 A note on the baguette pan. It’s critical to success here – these are the pans that are W in profile and have hundreds of tiny holes everywhere. This is what gives the even, crunchy crust all around. The more you use it the easier the bread will come out so don’t give up too quickly.