Italian Sandwich Bread

A soft and easy-to-make Italian sandwich loaf with the addition of olive oil and a sesame seed topping. This loaf is a little different from your everyday bread recipe, but not too different. We like it best for pressed Italian sandwiches but it works for absolutely everything.

Image of a freshly baked loaf of Italian sandwich bread, with a golden brown crust sprinkled with sesame seeds and a slice cut off to reveal a soft, airy interior.

Italian Sandwich Bread Recipe

Makes 1 loaf
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Rising time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Serving Size 12 slices

Ingredients 

Bread Dough

  • cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for greasing

Topping Loaf

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Instructions 

  • Combine all ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of your stand mixer or bread machine, combine the ingredients for the dough. If it seems very dry, add a small amount of water. If it is sticky and not clearing the bowl, add a small amount of flour.
  • Knead the dough. On a floured surface, knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic or knead with a stand mixer on low with the dough hook for 5-10 minutes. The dough is ready when it is very smooth and stetchy and can be stretched thin without tearing.
    Image of a stand mixer bowl with a dough hook attachment, containing a well-mixed, smooth bread dough ready for the first rise.
  • First rise. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
    Image of bread dough before and after rising, showing the dough's expansion from a tight ball to doubled in size in a round, floured bowl.
  • Shape into a loaf. Turn the dough out onto a counter and stretch into a rectangle approximately 9 x 18 inches. Tuck corners in and roll up into a log. Pinch all seams closed and place into a greased loaf pan
    Image of the bread dough being shaped, where it's stretched out on a baking pan before being rolled and tucked into a loaf shape.
  • Second rise. Place the shaped loaf on a greased baking sheet, cover with heavily sprayed plastic wrap, and let it rise again for 1 hour. It should rise at least 1 inch above the top of the loaf pan.
    Image of the bread dough in a loaf pan before and after the second rise, demonstrating the dough's rise to fill the pan and crest over the top.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. While the dough is rising, preheat your oven with the rack in the center. Brush loaf with a beaten egg mixed with a tablespoon of water and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
    Image of the final risen dough in a loaf pan, topped with sesame seeds, ready to be baked into a golden loaf of Italian sandwich bread.
  • Bake the bread. Once the dough has risen, bake it in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
    A loaf of Italian sandwich bread in a loaf pan, freshly baked with a golden-brown crust, sprinkled with sesame seeds on top.
  • Cool before slicing. Remove the bread from the oven, turn out of loaf pan, and let it cool on a wire rack before slicing.
    Slices of Italian sandwich bread laid out, showing the even crumb and sesame seeds adorning the crust.

Notes

Kneading the dough adequately is key to developing the gluten, which gives the bread its texture. Under kneaded bead will be dense. 
Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing to ensure it doesn’t become gummy.

You’ll love slicing this thick for panini sandwiches or just using it for everyday toast. It has a soft interior and golden crust, and the sesame flavor isn’t overwhelming.

A loaf of Italian sandwich bread with a sesame seed crust.

🥣 important tools and ingredients

This is a very basic loaf with the additional of olive oil and sesame seeds.

  • All-purpose flour. All-purpose flour is a staple in the baking aisle. It provides the necessary structure for the bread. It’s versatile and used in various baking recipes. This makes it an essential ingredient for this bread’s texture.
  • Instant or active dry yeast. Yeast is a key ingredient found in the baking section. It causes the dough to rise, giving the bread its light and airy structure. Instant yeast speeds up the process. Active dry yeast offers a more traditional approach.
  • Olive oil. Olive oil adds a subtle, rich flavor to the bread. It is characteristic of many Italian recipes. You can find it in the oils and vinegars aisle. It also contributes to the bread’s moist texture. If unavailable, a light vegetable oil can be a suitable substitute.
  • Granulated sugar. Sugar is a common sweetener found in the baking aisle. It enhances flavor, helps brown the crust, and feeds the yeast for a better rise.

With these key ingredients, you’re ready to get started.

Image of the initial ingredients for Italian sandwich bread laid out on a kitchen towel, including a bowl of flour, cups of water, sugar, olive oil, and yeast ready for mixing.

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  • Large Mixing Bowl. Must to combine all the ingredients. Ensure they mix for a uniform dough.
  • Stand Mixer or Bread Machine (optional). These make the kneading process easier and more consistent. They are especially helpful for those new to bread making.
  • Rolling Pin. The shaping tool is a must-have for shaping the dough into a rectangle before forming it into a loaf. It contributes to the bread’s uniform shape and structure.
  • Loaf Pan. A 9×5 inch loaf pan is ideal for this recipe, providing the perfect shape and size for the bread to rise and bake.
  • Kitchen Towel or Plastic Wrap. Used to cover the dough during rising, helping to keep it moist and warm, which is crucial for a proper rise.
  • Oven. The temperature control is indispensable for baking the bread. It ensures it cooks and develops a golden crust.
  • Wire Rack. Air must circulate around bread to cool it after baking. This prevents the crust from becoming soggy.

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Now, let’s move on to some helpful tips and tricks. They will ensure your baking experience is as smooth and successful as possible.

✨ Tips for the best bread

  • Temperature Control for Yeast Activation:. Ensure your water is at the right temperature (about 110°F) for activating the yeast. Too hot, and it can kill the yeast; too cold, and it won’t activate . Using a kitchen thermometer can be very helpful.
  • Proofing Environment:. If your kitchen is on the cooler side, create a warm environment for your dough to rise. An oven with the light on or a microwave with a cup of hot water inside can provide an ideal warm space for proofing.
  • Dough Consistency Check:. After mixing, your dough should be tacky but not sticky. If it sticks to your fingers, add a little more flour; if it feels dry, add a few drops of water.
  • Kneading Technique: If kneading by hand, use the heel of your hand for effective kneading. It’s not about the time spent kneading, but also about the quality of the kneading. The dough should feel smooth and elastic.
  • Shaping the Loaf: When shaping your loaf, roll it to avoid large air pockets inside. A tight roll also helps the bread maintain its shape during the second rise and baking.
  • Checking for Doneness:. When you tap on the bottom and the bread sounds hollow, it’s done and golden brown. You can also use an instant-read thermometer. The bread’s internal temperature should be around 190°F to 200°F.
  • Cooling Patience: Resist the temptation to slice the bread right out of the oven. Allowing it to cool completely helps set the crumb structure. This results in better texture and slices that hold together well.

🥫 Storage and make ahead instructions

My favorite way to store bread is to slice in a toss it in a bread bag, then freeze it.

Room Temperature Storage:

Once the bread has completely cooled, wrap it in plastic wrap or place it in a resealable plastic bag.

Keep the bread at room temperature, in a bread box or a dark, cool cupboard, to maintain its freshness.

It should stay fresh for about 3-4 days.

Refrigerator Storage:

Refrigeration is not recommended for fresh bread as it can dry out and become stale more .

Freezing Instructions:

Bread freezes well. To freeze, wrap the loaf or individual slices in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil or a freezer bag.

Label the package with the date, and you can freeze the bread for up to 3 months.

When you’re ready to eat, thaw the bread at room temperature. Keep it wrapped to avoid making it soggy from condensation. If you’ve frozen slices, you can toast them from the freezer.

Reviving Stale Bread:

If your bread starts to stale, heat it in the oven at 350°F for about 5-10 minutes. This can help restore some of its original texture and warmth.

Can I use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour for a healthier version?

Yes, you can substitute whole wheat flour, but keep in mind that it will change the texture and density of the bread. For a lighter texture, consider using half whole wheat and half all-purpose flour.

My dough didn’t double in size during the first rise. What went wrong?

This could be due to a few reasons. The yeast might be old or inactive. The room temperature might be too cool. Or, we didn’t knead the dough enough. Make sure you have fresh yeast and keep the dough in a warm, draft-free area.

Can I add herbs or other flavors to the bread?

Yes! You can add herbs like rosemary or thyme, grated cheese, or even olives to the dough for more flavor. Fold these ingredients into the dough after the initial mixing.

How can I determine if my bread is baked?

The bread should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf should read between 190°F and 200°F.

Can I make this bread without a stand mixer?

Yes, you can make this bread by hand. Kneading by hand might take a bit longer, around 10-15 minutes, but it’s a great way to get a feel for the dough’s texture.

Is it necessary to let the bread cool completely before slicing?

Yes, it’s important to let the bread cool completely. Cutting into the bread while it’s still hot can result in a gummy texture. The bread hasn’t finished setting up.

❤️ More sandwich breads you’ll love

Once you start making your own sandwich breads you’ll never go back to storebought. Here are more to try.

I hope you love this loaf and it makes its way into your bread-baking rotation.

Slices of Italian sandwich bread laid out, showing the even crumb and sesame seeds adorning the crust.
Italian Sandwich Bread

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