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.

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Mom's Italian Bread

Mom’s Italian Bread

  • Author: Dan Pelosi

What You’ll Need

Units Scale
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting


  • Softened butter
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Flaky sea salt

What You’ll Do

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºF, then turn it off when it reaches temperature.
  2. In the biggest oven-safe bowl you own, combine the yeast with 2 cups of warm tap water and whisk until the yeast dissolves. Add the sugar, oil, and salt and whisk again until the sugar dissolves. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour until the dough forms into a shaggy ball. Lightly flour a clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough for 10 minutes until the dough forms a smooth ball. Alternatively, you can make the dough in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook by mixing for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth.
  3. Clean out the large bowl, then lightly grease it with oil. Return the dough to the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Place a clean, damp kitchen towel over the bowl and transfer it to the warm oven. (Double check that the oven isn’t on!) Let the dough rise there with the door closed for about 1 hour, until doubled in size. To test it, stick one finger into the dough. If the hole stays, my mom says you have done the job right.
  4. Remove the bowl from the oven. Punch the dough down, cover it with the same towel, and let rise on the countertop until doubled in size again, about 1 hour more.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prepare the pan of your choosing (see below).
  6. Lightly flour a clean work surface, turn out the dough, and punch it down again. Prepare the dough according to the instructions for your chosen format (see below again). Cover the pan(s) with damp kitchen towels and let rest at room temperature until the dough rises and fills out the pans, about 30 minutes.
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the bread is nicely golden brown. Serve the bread hot, at room temperature, toasted, in a basket wrapped in a napkin—whatever your heart desires! Serve it with softened butter, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar for the authentic experience.

    TO MAKE LOAVES: Use two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. Divide the dough and place in the prepared loaf pans.

    TO MAKE ROLLS: Use an 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Cut the dough into 9 equal pieces and roll them into tight balls. Arrange them in the prepared baking dish.
    TO MAKE BREADSTICKS: Use a rimmed sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Roll the dough into an 8 x 10-inch rectangle, then cut it into eight 1-inch-wide strips. Arrange the strips on the prepared sheet pan.