Last Updated:September 29, 2020

Chewy, crunchy, flavorful sub sandwich rolls so good your friends will have a hard time believing you made them

(TL/DR: Click here to skip straight to the recipe)

Sage claims magic makes a great sandwich (he also says the magic only works when someone else makes it). I happen to think it’s good ingredients in the right combination, starting with the bread.

There used to be a little deli in town that made an amazing Italian sandwich served on a house-made bread, which was a sort of down-sized French loaf but with more chewiness and herbs baked in. I loved that bread because not only did it taste amazing, but it held the ingredients without getting soggy or falling apart even if it had extra red wine vinegar and sat in the fridge for a day. (It might have even been better a day later.)

Sadly, the deli is gone, but I was able to reverse engineer the recipe for the bread and it’s now my go-to for sub sandwiches when we’re having a casual get together or watching sports. People always love it and have a hard time believing I baked it right here at home. When they ask “what’s my secret?” I take a cue from my husband and tell them “no mayo, extra magic.”

Then I give them the recipe. Here you go. Enjoy!

Sandwich Shop-Style Italian Bread

Time: Active 10 minutes, Total 3 hours | Makes 3 loaves

Ingredients
  • 1-⅓ cups warm water
  • 2-¼ teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-½ tsp dry Italian Seasoning
  • 1-½ teaspoons salt
  • 1-½ teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 cups high gluten flour*

* High Gluten flour is the type of flour used in bagels, certain pizza dough and breads. The gluten makes the bread denser and chewier. If you can’t find it in your local store, it’s sold online and at restaurant suppliers including stores like Costco, Smart & Final, Sam’s Club, etc. If you can’t find it at any of those places, substitute bread flour and a tablespoon of Biga (recipe here).

Directions
  1. Mix the water, Italian seasoning, yeast and sugar in a mixing bowl and let it stand for about 10 minutes. It should start to bubble and maybe foam a bit.
  2. Add the olive oil and salt and gradually mix in the flour. Keep mixing in flour until the dough is sticky, but dry enough that it comes away from the sides of the bowl. Once the dough reaches the riht consistency, stop adding flour but continue to kneed the dough (a dough hook works great) for four minutes more.
  3. Cover the bowl with a cloth and let the dough stand until it doubles in size (usually about 30 – 45 minutes).
  4. Once doubled, punch down dough and divide it into three equal balls. Using a well-floured cutting board, roll each ball of dough out like a “snake” (one of my favorite parts) to make your loaves. Sandwich shop bread is a little narrower and shorter than a standard French or Italian loaf. I usually roll my loaves to be about 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. When baked they’ll end up about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide, which is perfect for sandwiching.
  5. Transfer your loaves to a baking sheeting lightly coated with olive oil. Cover with a cloth and set aside to rise until they’re doubled (usually about an hour).
  6. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Make a few small slits with a knife in the tops of your loaves. Once the over is heated, place a pan with 2 cups of water on the bottom rack and put the pan with your loaves on a rack directly above it.
  7. Bake until the tops of the loaves are just beginning to turn golden. Remove and let the bread cool.

Enjoy the bread with nothing more than a little red wine vinegar and olive oil, or go all out and load it up with your favorite Italian meats, cheeses and vegetables, ultimate sandwich shop style.

Any way you slice it, this bread is magic.