Italian White Bread (Grandpa’s Bread)

By JONATHON HARTIG for the Flathead Beacon

My grandfather was a tailor by trade, but bread baking was his passion. He would welcome all 20 of his grandchildren – albeit not at the same time – into his basement kitchen and teach us his techniques. After all, the large Italian family that we were, we needed very little excuse to celebrate around a dinner table filled with homemade pastas, sauces, sausages, breads, etc.

These were hardly intimate affairs, and as the family grew, my grandfather would employ us to help prepare a dozen loaves of bread, or dozens of dinner rolls. As he grew older and lost dexterity, my grandfather passed the bulk of the baking onto my older sister who proudly continued his traditions.

This bread recipe reminds me of home and my grandfather, and it was a catalyst for me in pursuing a culinary profession. I find it appropriate that for my first published recipe, I share the first recipe that inspired me. I decided to keep this recipe in its original form and not to scale it down. The recipe will make about 6 loaves of bread.



  • 5 Tbsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup and
  • 1 tsp. sugar, divided
  • 6 cups warm water, divided (95 degrees F)
  • 5 lbs. AP flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Sesame or poppy seeds (if desired)


Mix yeast, one teaspoon of sugar and one-and-a-half cups water together in a measuring cup. Let sit for ten minutes or until mixtures begins to foam.
In a large mixing bowl, add half of the flour, the remaining water, oil, salt, sugar, eggs and finally the yeast mixture. Mix until well combined. Add the remaining flour and mix until combined.
Turn dough onto a floured work surface and knead until dough is smooth, and slightly tacky, (about 10 minutes).
Place dough into a large clean bowl, and drizzle one teaspoon of oil on top. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled (about one hour).
Remove dough from bowl, punch down dough to remove gas and separate into six equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and cover for about a half hour.
Shape and form dough into loaves or rolls and place on sheet pan. Cover loosely with plastic and let rise until doubled. About one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly brush tops of loaves or rolls with water and sprinkle with seeds, if desired.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in center of oven or until bread registers an internal temperature of 190 to 200 degrees. Bread should be soft and have a golden brown crust.
Let cool on cooling racks and enjoy!

Jonathon Hartig is the executive sous chef/instructional assistant at The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College. For more information about the program, visit the Culinary Institute of Montana’s website.