Bread, Savory Bread

Perfect Muffaletta Bread

Making your own delicious muffaletta bread from scratch is suprisingly simple, and the final loaf tastes fantastic.  Even beginning bakers can do this recipe.  Follow along with the instructional photos, and have fun baking!

holding a loaf of muffaletta bread

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 muffaletta bread 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.

muffaletta bread sliced in half

How to Make Muffaletta Bread

Start by measuring out the ingredients: bread flour, yeast, salt, sugar, olive oil, and water.

ingredients for muffaletta bread

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.

making muffaletta bread dough

Pour in the sugar, oil, and half of the water.  Mix with your hand to start making the dough.

making muffaletta bread dough

Gradually add more water and keep mixing until all the flour is picked up and a sticky dough forms.

sticky muffaletta bread dough before kneading

Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes until it’s less sticky.

kneading muffaletta bread dough

The kneaded dough should pass the windowpane test.  If you can stretch a piece of dough until it’s translucent without breaking, then it’s kneaded enough.  If not, knead a little longer and test again.

doing the windowpane test for muffaletta bread dough

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let it prove until at least doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).

muffaletta bread dough before and after the first prove

Punch down the dough in the bowl, then shape the dough into a flat disc about 9 inches in diameter.  The loaf will increase in diameter to about 10 inches as it proves and bakes.

loaf of muffaletta bread on a baking stone

Lightly spray the dough with water and gently massage it in.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds on top, then gently press them into the dough.  This gives the muffaletta bread its signature look.

sprinkling sesame seeds on muffaletta bread

Prove until doubled in size (about 1 hour), then bake.  Let it cool for at least half an hour before slicing.

muffaletta bread on a cooling rack

Pro Tips for Making Muffaletta Bread

  • Get your fingers sticky!  Making bread is a hands-on process.
  • 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–the dough shouldn’t be dry.
  • Keep the dough out of hot places when it’s rising, or it will grow too quickly.  A slow prove will make a better flavored bread.
  • Spraying the loaf with a little water before sprinkling on the sesame seeds will help them stick to the dough better.
  • Let the loaf cool for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour, before cutting.  The bread will be very soft and doughy if you try to cut it too soon.
  • If you’re in a hurry, make the bread dough the night before and let it prove in the fridge overnight.  Shape it into the loaf, prove, and bake the next day.

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!

Turn your homemade muffaletta bread into an unforgettable sandwich.

spoonful of olive salad for muffaletta

  • Olive Salad for Muffaletta: this colorful, Sicilian-inspired salad will add a fabulous flavor to your muffaletta.
  • How to Make a Muffaletta Sandwich: coming soon!

Share how you enjoyed this muffaletta bread recipe by leaving a recipe review below.  We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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loaf of muffaletta bread on a cooling rack

Perfect Muffaletta Bread


  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1 10-inch loaf
  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Make the perfect loaf of light and soft muffaletta bread with this super easy recipe.  Stuff this bread with olive salad, sliced deli meat, and cheese to make an authentic New Orleans sandwich.  It will be a real crowd pleaser at your Super Bowl party or family dinner!


Ingredients

  • 3 1/3 cups bread flour (400g)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons fast-action yeast (7g)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (10g)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (14g)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (60 ml)
  • 1 1/4 cups room-temperature water (296 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, untoasted

Instructions

Making the Bread Dough (25 minutes + 1 1/2 hours proving)

  1. 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.
  2. Add the sugar, oil, and half of the water.  Stir with your hand until the dough begins to come together.  Keep stirring and gradually add more water until all the flour is picked up and a sticky dough forms.
  3. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is no longer sticky and passes the windowpane test.  Check the dough by stretching a lump of dough between the thumb and forefinger of each hand.  If the dough is translucent in places without breaking, it’s been kneaded enough.  If it breaks, knead a minute longer and check again.
  4. 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 1/2 hours.

Shaping the Muffaletta Bread (8 minutes + 1 hour proving)

  1. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down with your fists to get rid of the air pockets.
  2. Place the dough on a large, lightly floured baking stone or cookie sheet.  Shape it into a flat disc about 9 inches in diameter.
  3. 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.
  4. 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, the dough should spring back quickly when gently prodded with a fingertip.
  5. About 10 minutes before the loaf is done proving, preheat the oven to 425 F.

Baking the Muffaletta Bread (25 minutes baking + cooling)

  1. 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.
  2. Let the loaf cool for at least 30 minutes on a wire rack before slicing.

Keywords: muffaletta bread, recipe

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