Making your own delicious muffaletta bread from scratch is surprisingly simple, and the final loaf tastes fantastic. Even beginning bakers can do this recipe. Follow along with the instructional photos, and have fun baking!
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What does the word muffaletta mean?
Muffaletta is a famous sandwich that originated in New Orleans at Central Grocery. It was invented in 1906 by Salvatore Lupo, the owner of Central Grocery. A muffaletta sandwich is made from a kind of Italian bread split in half and filled with olive salad, cold cuts, and cheese.
What kind of bread do you use for a muffaletta?
Traditionally, muffaletta is made with a rather flat, 10-inch round loaf sprinkled with sesame seeds on top. The bread should have a light-textured interior and thin crust. Since this is an Italian-style loaf, it contains the basic ingredients of flour, yeast, salt, and water, plus the additional enrichment of olive oil, sugar, and sometimes egg.
Can I freeze muffaletta bread?
Yes, you can freeze the loaf before adding the sandwich meat and cheese. Wrap the loaf in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil; then freeze for up to 1 month.
How to Make
Start by measuring out the ingredients: bread flour, yeast, salt, sugar, olive oil, and water.
Add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl (the salt can kill the yeast if it touches it), then stir them in with your finger.
Pour in the sugar, oil, and half of the water. Mix with your hand.
Gradually add more water and keep mixing until all the flour is picked up and a sticky dough forms.
Knead on a floured surface for about 10 minutes until it's less sticky.
The kneaded dough should pass the windowpane test. If you can stretch a piece until it's translucent without breaking, then it's kneaded enough. If not, knead a little longer and test again.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let it prove until at least doubled in size (about 1 ½ hours).
Punch down the dough in the bowl, then shape it into a flat disc about 9 inches in diameter. The loaf will increase in diameter to about 10 inches as it proves and bakes.
Lightly spray it with water and gently massage it in. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds on top, then gently press them in. This gives the muffaletta its signature look.
Prove until doubled in size (about 1 hour), then bake. Let it cool for at least half an hour before slicing.
Are you hungry for a slice of a muffaletta sandwich? I'm glad we have some in our fridge to enjoy later on today. It's worth the time to make from scratch!
- Sticky dough? Simply add more flour to the work surface. Just be careful not to add too much.
- Use a mixer instead if you don't want to knead by hand.
- Let the dough rise in a warm place to encourage the yeast's growth.
- Want to make this ahead? Mix and knead the dough, then let it prove in the fridge overnight. Shape it into the loaf, prove, and bake the next day.
- Want to freeze this? Freeze the baked and cooled loaf for up to 1 month if desired.
- Digital Kitchen Scale: measuring ingredients accurately just got so much easier!
- Wire Cooling Racks: these racks keep freshly baked goods crisp and speed up the cooling time.
- Pyrex Glass Measuring Cup: this 4-cup measuring cup holds a lot and has a pouring spout.
- Farberware Measuring Cups: we've used and loved these stainless steel ones for years.
Other Recipes You'll Need to Make Muffaletta
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Perfect Muffaletta Bread
Making the Dough (25 min + 1 ½ hrs proving)
- Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, then add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl. Stir each one in with your finger. Be careful not to let the salt touch the yeast directly, as it can kill or stunt the yeast.
- Add the sugar, oil, and half of the water. Stir with your hand until the mixture begins to come together. Keep stirring and gradually add more water until all the flour is picked up and a sticky dough forms.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until it's no longer sticky and passes the windowpane test. Check it by stretching a lump of dough between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. If it's translucent in places without breaking, it's been kneaded enough. If it breaks, knead a minute longer and check again.
- Pour about 2 teaspoons of olive oil into a large mixing bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and turn it in the oil to coat, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it prove at room temperature until at least doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
Shaping the Loaf (8 min + 1 hr proving)
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down with your fists to get rid of the air pockets.
- Place it on a large, lightly floured baking stone or cookie sheet. Shape it into a flat disc about 9 inches in diameter.
- Spritz the top of the loaf with a little water and rub it into the surface. Sprinkle about two tablespoons of sesame seeds onto the top of the loaf and gently press them into the dough.
- Loosely cover the loaf with a piece of plastic wrap, and let it prove at room temperature until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour. Once it's proved, it should spring back quickly when gently prodded with a fingertip.
- About 10 minutes before the loaf is done proving, preheat the oven to 425 F.
Baking the Bread (25 min)
- Remove the plastic wrap and bake the proved loaf at 425 F for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 400 F and bake for another 15 minutes, until the loaf is a rich golden brown and has an internal temperature of 200 F.
- Let the loaf cool for at least 30 minutes on a wire rack before slicing.
- If the dough is really sticky when you're kneading, simply add more flour to the work surface. Just be careful not to add too much.
- Feel free to make this in a mixer if you don't want to knead by hand.
- Keep the dough out of hot places when it's rising, or it will grow too quickly. A slow prove will improve the flavor.
- If you're in a hurry, make the dough the night before and let it prove in the fridge overnight. Shape it into the loaf, prove, and bake the next day.
- Freeze the baked and cooled loaf for up to 1 month if desired.