Scali Bread

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Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
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Total time:
Yield: 1 large loaf; or 12 rolls

Recipe photo

This shiny, mahogany-brown braid is heavily coated with sesame seeds, giving it nutty flavor and a lovely appearance. Serve it with your pasta, or slice it for sandwiches; it's a fixture of Boston-area bakeries and supermarkets.

See our blog, Flourish, for step-by-step photos for making a scali loaf, or scali rolls.

Scali Bread

star rating (53) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time: Overnight,
Yield: 1 large loaf; or 12 rolls
Published: 12/19/2009



  • 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup cool water, enough to make a stiff ball of dough
  • pinch of instant yeast


  • all of the starter
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons Baker's Special dry milk or nonfat dry milk
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • 1 large egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds


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1) To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients together, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight. Note: This is a dry, stiff starter. If it's too dry to come together, it may be that you measure your flour differently than we do here at King Arthur, or that you're in a particularly dry climate. Dribble in sufficient water to make the dough come together, and proceed with the recipe as directed.

2) To make the dough: Combine the starter with the remaining dough ingredients, and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, smooth dough.

3) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or large (8-cup) measure; cover, and let it rise for about 90 minutes, till it's just about doubled in bulk.

4) To make one large loaf: Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a rough log, and let the logs rest, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. This gives the gluten in the dough a chance to relax, which in turn will make the logs easier to roll.

5) Working on a lightly greased surface, roll each log into a rope about 24" long. Brush each rope with the egg white/water, and sprinkle heavily with the sesame seeds, rolling the ropes gently in the seeds to pick up as many as possible.

6) Grab one end of each rope, and squeeze the ends together firmly. Braid the ropes, tucking the ends under to make a neat braided loaf.

7) To make rolls: Follow the directions above, but divide the dough into six pieces, rather than three. Roll each piece into a thin rope about 28" long. Take three of the ropes, and coat with seeds and braid as directed above. Repeat with the remaining three ropes. The resulting loaves will be about 18" long.

8) Cut each braid into six 3" rolls. Squeeze the cut ends together to seal, and tuck them under.

9) Place the loaf on a large, parchment-lined (or lightly greased) baking sheet. Or space the rolls on a baking sheet. Cover the loaf or rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow to rise till very puffy, about 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

10) Bake the loaf for about 25 to 35 minutes, till it's a deep golden brown. The rolls will need to bake for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack.

Yield: one large loaf, or 12 rolls.


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  • star rating 04/23/2015
  • Baby Bump from KAF Community
  • The first time this didn't come out so great. I found that the recipe needs quite a bit more water (maybe because I live in central New Mexico and it's quite dry here) The second time it was great. The third time I made it in to rolls (shaped like kaiser rolls) TERRIFIC!
  • star rating 04/06/2015
  • mazznorton from KAF Community
  • I've made this twice before as written and the results were fantastic. Recently I purchased two 9x5 loaf pans in order to start making our family's sandwich bread rather than paying $3 a loaf at the market, so I decided to try the Scali with a few hours to spare on Easter Sunday, doubling the recipe. There was only enough time to let it rise for one hour. I braided the loaves then plopped them in the lightly oiled pans, egg-washed and seeded them, then gave them another hour to rise. Baked at 425F for 25 minutes and turned them out to cool. We brought one to Easter dinner at the in-laws and I was told it was the best bread they'd all ever eaten! Everything about it was perfect, from the bottom crust to the bread's gorgeous texture. Thank you!
  • star rating 01/01/2015
  • Jayma from Atlanta, GA
  • This is my go-to recipe when I am craving Italian bread! I always make the rolls so that I can freeze them for future dinners. I've never had any issues with the recipe and the bread is always delicious.
  • star rating 06/29/2014
  • Chef Roberto from Houston,Tx.
  • Easy recipe to follow & yet produces GREAT results. I don't bake bread & found this recipe to produce excellent results. will continue to use it.
  • star rating 04/25/2014
  • elenamccollum from KAF Community
  • Made this many many times. Everyone loves it. I usually make the starter in the morning and make the dough in the evening, then half way through the rise I put it in the fridge until the following day - usually afternoon. I make several thinner logs for subs. Perfect every time.
  • star rating 01/19/2014
  • Diver Nancy from KAF Community
  • Outstanding! Best tasting bread ever! Just like I remember as a kid. Wow, keeping this recipe forever! A+++++++++++
  • star rating 04/15/2013
  • cynthia20932 from KAF Community
  • I was in a hurry and used my sourdough starter, which was not very stiff. I had to add a little extra flour. I made 2 long braids. I was going to make one loaf into rolls, but forgot. It turned out beautifully, and was delicious. I cut each loaf into 5 or 6 sections for sandwich rolls. Everyone loved it. I was surprised that it was not white in the interior, but rather, more of a golden color. I'm eager to try this recipe again using the overnight stiff starter to see what kind of taste difference it makes. Thanks for the recipe!
  • star rating 02/12/2013
  • Baker from Canada
  • Made it multiple times. Never fail. Great tasting. Nice, tender crumb. Golden crust. Goes well with anything or all by itself.
  • star rating 10/08/2012
  • from KAF Community
  • I made this bread and sort of combined this recipe with the other seeded Italian one you have in here with some sour dough starter, amazing to say the least. My bread is really coming along a lot better with the king Arthur ingredients. I added a T of gluten and used half bread and half AP flour a little olive oil. And the bread was amazing. Crispy crust moist and chewy inside. I have finally decided that I have been to strict on following some recipes to a tee. I am now improvising and it is much better, TY
  • star rating 10/07/2012
  • from KAF Community
  • Can I make this bread today, make the braid then put it in the fridge to bake tomorrow. I assume if I can before it does the second rise
    Yes, that will work just fine. MJR @ KAF
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