Pane Bianco

Don’t let the title confuse you.  This is anything but “white bread”.  It is a swirling, fragrant, rolled and shaped loaf that’s full of color and flavor.  The recipe is original to an Illinois woman who baked it for the National Festival of Bread (and won first place).  It makes a lovely centerpiece on a buffet table, and it disappeared in a hurry when I set it out on my sandwich bar for happy hour snacks.

It is a basic white loaf, enriched with olive oil, milk, and egg.  The  magic is in the filling and shaping of the bread.  Made like a rolled loaf, the dough is first covered with chopped garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, shredded cheese, and fresh basil.  Once the roll is securely sealed, a single incision is made along the top of the  loaf to expose the savory interior.   Then the bread is shaped into an S, with the ends tucked underneath.  It ends up looking like a figure 8.  When baked, the bread will puff up and grow into a delicious, aromatic and beautiful loaf.  It’s perfect just barely warm, with butter or olive oil, and it stores well for two to three days.

Here you can see the dramatic effect of the rolling and shaping in the finished product.  The filling provides just the right boost of flavor without weighing down the bread, which is moist and fine-crumbed on its own.  If you’re looking for a special bread for entertaining or for someone who adores savory garlic-flavored bread, this is the right choice.  Make it soon; autumn cooking is just around the corner and you’ll need this to partner with the soups on your “to try” list.  Enjoy!

Print

Pane Bianco

An enriched dough, rolled around a filling of garlic, cheese, basil, and sun-dried tomato.  Split and shaped into a figure-8, it becomes a stunningly attractive centerpiece bread.  It's flavorful, colorful, and easy to make.

Course Appetizer, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American, Italian-Inspired
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings 1 large loaf
Author Adapted from "King Arthur Flour"

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup shredded, extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, well drained
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (or a combination of basil and parsley)

Instructions

  1. Pour the milk and the water into a 2-cup glass measure.  Heat in the microwave until lukewarm.  Combine the liquids with the flour, yeast, salt, egg, and olive oil, in the bowl of a stand mixer.  With the dough hook, mix the ingredients to form a soft, smooth dough.  Knead with the dough hook for about 5 minutes.  The dough may be a little sticky.  Transfer it to a lightly oiled, large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in volume (45 to 60 minutes). 

  2. In the meantime, cut the sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces.  Set aside with the other filling ingredients.  When the dough has risen, deflate it and roll or stretch it out on a very lightly floured surface to an approximately 20x8-inch rectangle.  Sprinkle the dough evenly with the cheese, chopped tomatoes, garlic, and fresh basil.  From a long edge, roll the dough firmly into a log.  Pinch the edges and ends firmly to seal.  Place the log, seam-side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 

  3. With kitchen shears and starting 1/2-inch from the end of the log, cut down the center of the dough to within 1/2-inch of the other end, cutting about 3/4-inch deep. Keeping the cut side up, twist the dough into an S-shape.  Gently lift and tuck each end under the center of the S, pinching to seal, and forming a figure-8 shape.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise another 45 to 60 minutes.

  4. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.  When the bread has again doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap and place it in the oven.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting with foil after 20 minutes if it is browning too quickly.  When the bread is done (you can check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer; it should be 190° to 200° F), transfer it to a rack to cool.  Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.  The loaf will keep, well-wrapped for 2 to 3 days.  

Recipe Notes

You can see the King Arthur Flour version of the recipe here.  The original version, from the National Festival of Breads is here.