This Italian Rustic Ricotta Bread is an easy recipe resulting in a loaf of bread that is moist, tender with a slightly chewy crust. Perfect for sandwiches, bruschetta, and for scooping up sauces. Enjoy a basket of this tasty bread on your dinner table any night of the week!
If you're new to using ricotta in anything other than a lasagna, let me assure you there are a myriad of ways to use it! Because of its light and creamy texture and an even lighter flavour it is great in things like bread, pancakes, sauces, cookies, and believe it or not, gelato.
It's got a mild flavour which is a great base for all kinds of additional flavours – lemon is one of my favourites. If you have any ricotta leftover this recipe is a great way to use it.
Ricotta bread much like most Italian bread is a great way to introduce yourself to the world of bread baking. Simple ingredients, easy to follow steps, and a little extra patience will transform not only your senses but your idea of what it takes to make bread in your very own kitchen.
Making homemade bread is easier than you think and smelling it as it comes out of the oven is everything!
How to make it
Mix together lukewarm water and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer. Sprinkle active dry yeast on top and let sit before stirring it together.
Add both the all-purpose flour and the bread flour (or semolina) and start to knead on low. Add salt and continue kneading until smooth.
With your hands form the dough into a ball in the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and place in a warm draft-free area to rise.
Add the ricotta and knead until combined. If you want bits of ricotta throughout your bread, you won't knead the dough as long.
Because the dough is a bit messy at this point because of the ricotta, take a spatula and help guide the bread out of the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface.
Form the dough into a loaf. Place the dough in a lightly greased and floured loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with a little flour and cover. Let rise once more in a warm draft-free area for an hour.
Preheat the oven and once the dough has risen for the last time, bake and let cool on a wire rack.
What is ricotta cheese?
Ricotta cheese is made from leftover whey from other cheeses, it can be from cow, goat, sheep or Italian Buffalo. Sometimes an acidifier is added. Ricotta meaning recooked is just that, the recooking of the whey. Since it is not produced from curd, but from whey, ricotta cannot be considered a real cheese. The term ricotta can also mean the fresh one.
Fresh ricotta is placed in the typical cone shaped perforated container, where it is left to drain. It is usually a white colour, of course how white depends on the type of milk that is used. It is soft and slightly grainy but is not elastic or hard. Fresh ricotta has the smell of warm milk and hay, although the aroma of hay will be more intense in ricotta that is made from sheep or buffalo milk.
Most if not all the regions of Italy make their own ricotta but the most popular comes from Lazio, Abruzzo, Basilicata, Sicilia, Sardegna, Campania, Puglia, Calabria, Toscana, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardia e Piemonte. And Baked Ricotta is originally from the Region of Sardegna.
How to store it
The bread should be stored in a paper bag and eaten within 2 days. It can also be frozen once it has cooled completely. Freeze in a freezer save bag or container. It will last up to 2 months in the freezer.
Is this a make-ahead dough?
More times than not, yeast dough can be made up to 24 hours prior to baking, be sure to store it in the fridge. When you are ready to bake, bring the dough back to room temperature, usually 45-60 minutes will be enough time, and bake as directed.
What else can I use ricotta bread for?
- Breadcrumbs: Then use those for meatballs!
- French toast: Any kind of toast, really.
- Bruschetta - If you have leftover ricotta, make a herb and ricotta bruschetta.
- Sandwiches - Whether sliced or as a bun, this bread is perfect for your favourite fillings.
More Delicious Specialty Breads
So if you decide to try a new type of bread I hope you give this Italian Rustic Ricotta Bread a try and let me know what you think. Enjoy!
Italian Rustic Ricotta Bread
- 1 cup + 1 tablespoon water (lukewarm 105F/40C) (235 grams)
- 1 pinch sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup bread flour or semolina (130 grams)
- 1 cup all purpose flour (130 grams)
- 3/4-1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup ricotta cheese (245 grams)
- In the stand up mixer mix together the water and sugar, sprinkle the yeast on top, let sit for 5 minutes then stir together. Add the flours and start to knead on low speed, add the salt and continue to knead on speed 2 for about 7 minutes or until smooth and compact.
- With your hands form the dough into a ball in the mixer, cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel. Place in a warm draft free area and let rise 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
- Add the ricotta and knead until combined or almost (depending on if you want bits of ricotta throughout). Place the dough on a lightly floured flat surface (it will be a bit messy because of the ricotta, I used a spatula which helped a lot) and form the dough into a loaf shape. Place the loaf in a lightly greased and floured 9 inch (22cm) loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with a little flour, cover and let rise in a warm draft free area for 1 hour.
- Pre-heat oven to 400F (200C).
- Bake for 20-25. Move immediately to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!