Dust off your recipe box – it’s competition time!: Enter the 2011 National Festival of Breads.

Doesn’t this look good? It’s tomato, basil, and garlic filled Pane Bianco, the winning recipe from the first-ever National Festival of Breads. Dianna Wara of Washington, Ill., won the gold in Wichita last year with this visually stunning and taste-bud-pleasing recipe inspired by her husband’s Italian heritage. And with the 2011 National Festival of Breads just open for entries, it seemed like a good time to share the recipe and some hints from Dianna.

Here’s Dianna:

Part of her prize package from the National Festival of Breads was an all-expenses-paid trip for a baking class of her choice at our Baking Education Center here in Norwich, Vermont. She came this summer for the four-day class Artisan Baking at Home, where she learned to make baguettes, sourdough bread, croissants, and more. Not a bad prize, eh?!

A special education teacher by trade, Dianna says baking is her way to relax – and if she can bring home some great prizes while she’s at it, so much the better! She looks for inspiration for her contest entries in the grocery store – ice cream flavors, she says, are a good way to gauge what’s trendy at the moment – and at local bakeries, scoping out the latest flavor combinations, shaping techniques, and popular items. And it seems to be working: Dianna has entered well over a dozen competitions this year, taking first place in three so far.

Now, before I show you how to make this award-winning bread creation, I want to tell you just a bit more about the National Festival of Breads.

The National Festival of Breads is America’s only amateur bread-baking contest, celebrating the relationship between producer and consumer in a biennial contest. Its categories include Ethnic Breads, Rolls, Time-Saving and Easy Breads, and Whole Grain Breads. Eight finalists receive an expenses-paid trip to the live competition in Wichita; and the grand-prize winner receives $2,000.

So start testing those recipes – we had hundreds of submissions last time around, and we hope to receive even more this time.

Finally, what you’ve been waiting for: The Recipe (slightly adapted in our test kitchen).

Put the following in a bowl:

1/2 cup warm water

1/4 cup sugar

4 teaspoons instant yeast

1 cup lukewarm low-fat milk

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons salt

6 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour

Beat on medium speed of an electric mixer for a minute or so, until the dough starts to come together. Dianna’s original recipe called for 5 to 5 1/2 cups of flour, but we found that made a very sticky dough, so we added a bit more flour…

…to make a more cohesive dough that looked like something we could make bread with.

Switch to a dough hook, and knead for about 5 to 7 minutes, till you’ve made a soft, smooth dough.

Grease a bowl with olive oil. Place your dough into the bowl, and turn it over to grease the top. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place until double, about 45 minutes.

While your dough rises, prepare the ingredients you’ll need to fill the bread. First, drain the oil from an 8.5-ounce jar of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes; lay the drained tomatoes on some paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

Using kitchen shears, make 2/3 cup chopped basil (about 1/2 ounce). Chop the sun-dried tomatoes the same way. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of shredded Italian cheese blend, and 3/4 teaspoon of granulated garlic or garlic powder. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Once the dough has doubled…

…deflate it and divide it in two. You’ll make two lovely loaves with this recipe.

Roll one piece of the dough out…

…until you have a rectangle approximately 8 1/2” by 22”. A kneading/rolling mat makes the measuring (and cleanup!) easy.

Sprinkle on half of the garlic…

…and half of the tomatoes…

…and half of the basil and cheese.

Now roll the whole thing into a log the long way.

Pinch the edge to seal, and place the log seam-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Here’s the part that looks tricky, but really isn’t: shaping.

Get those kitchen shears out again, and cut lengthwise down the center of the log, about 1” deep, leaving about 1/2” uncut at each end to hold everything together.

It’ll start to fall apart a little bit; don’t worry, just keep on going.

Keeping the cut side up, take the ends of the log and form an “S” shape.

Tuck the ends under the middle of the “S” to form a figure 8; pinch the ends together.

Cover the loaf and let it rise in a warm place until double, about 45 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, fill and shape the second loaf, and preheat your oven to 350°.

When the first loaf has risen, place it in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting with foil after 15 to 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. The kitchen will begin to smell wonderfully of tomatoes, basil, garlic, and cheese.

When the first loaf is golden brown, pull it out, set it on a rack to cool, and bake the second loaf.

Mmmmm. Enjoy your gorgeous loaf – preferably with a crowd of family and friends who’ll be so impressed by its unique shape!

Now that you’ve been inspired, go forth and create your own special recipe to enter in the 2011 National Festival of Breads!

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Pane Bianco.

Allison Furbish

Allison Furbish is a native of the Upper Valley, where King Arthur Flour is based, and an avid lifelong baker especially enthusiastic about anything chocolate.


  1. SoupAddict Karen

    Gorgeous, gorgeous loaf – well done!

    Thank you! This was my first time baking this loaf, and playing in our test kitchen – what fun! -Allison

  2. lsjfam

    Can I bake this as a regular loaf-without cutting it open and shaping it? I’m thinking amazing grilled sandwiches with this one! 🙂

    I think that would be fine – and I love the idea! You would probably want to roll it the other way (starting at a short end, so it’ll fit in a bread pan), and might need to adjust baking time. If you try it, I hope you’ll comment about it on the recipe page itself to let other bakers know how to make that work! Thanks -Allison

  3. SMJ

    That looks delish! Can I use the dough cycle of my breadmaker for kneading/ first rise? (I am addicted to my breadmaker, it kneads so well!) Looks like a great party recipe to me. Time to PAAARTY!!!!

    I didn’t test in the bread machine, but I don’t see any reason it wouldn’t work – I often start dough in there and then shape and bake outside the machine. Definitely a great party recipe. Have fun! -Allison

  4. Wei-Wei

    Oh, that really is gorgeous! If I live in China, will the expenses still be covered? I hope I can take part 😉

    Thanks Wei-Wei! Unfortunately you must reside in the U.S. to be eligible to win – but we’d sure love to see your recipe anyway! -Allison

  5. drewsmom

    Gorgeous! I can’t wait to try it! Also, someone just posted on Facebook that it would be fun to try this same shaping technique with cinnamon bread.

    Yes, doesn’t that sound good? I plan to try this shape with lots of things! 🙂 -Allison

  6. Sarah

    Allison, how did you slice it? From one end, following the “S”? Or just straight across the whole end? Or tear it into chunks? I imagine it will fall apart somewhat no matter how it’s served. This will make a lovely luncheon with a green salad and nice wine.

    I can also envision a savory breakfast version, with crumbled cooked sweet sausage, grated cheddar, and perhaps some dried cranberries or chopped dried apples. That would be a lovely breakfast on Christmas morning or New Year’s Day.

    I sliced it across the end, like I would any other loaf. It didn’t fall apart too much. I love both your luncheon and breakfast ideas! Glad you are inspired by this recipe. -Allison

  7. Margaret

    This looks wonderful. I can see making just a huge swirl bread with this and using it for dipping or sandwiches or just eating it plain toasted.

  8. Hester

    That looks delicious! And you always make it seem so inspiringly simple… I’m not familiar with Italian cheese blend here in the UK: which cheeses go into it?

    Hester, the one we use is mild cheddar and mozzarella; some have some added Parmesan, as well. PJH

  9. superreader

    That bread looks amazing! We’ll be trying a GF version, for sure.

    As for the contest-I was really excited to read about it until I saw the wheat flour requirement. That means no GF recipes welcome. I understand that the wheat growers are prime sponsors and you’re promoting that part of your line. It would be great if at some point y’all could include rice or other flour industry sponsors for this contest so it could be expanded, or if you developed another one to promote your GF line and open the competition to GF bakers.

    Thanks, Eileen~

    Thanks for your comment, Eileen – I’m sorry you won’t be able to submit a recipe for this contest, but I’ll definitely bring this to the right folks here to think about holding some kind of gluten-free baking contest in the future. I’d love to see how you do with a GF version of this recipe – keep us posted! -Allison

  10. chocomouse

    Seeing your photos, I want to promote a tool sold at KAF that I absolutely love!! I don’t know how I managed before I bought the 5-bladed scissors! They are wonderful for snipping herbs, such as the basil or chives. You can stack 6-8 basil leaves and with a couple of snips, voila!

  11. erinhibshman

    This recipe is a DREAM to work with — it came together wonderfully, and I loved the photos to help me with the awesome “S” shape! This bread got rave reviews — I will definitely make it again, and will definitely try the shaping with a cinnamon swirl bread too! Also, thanks for the bread contest announcement – my brain is already beginning to formulate something delicious to enter!

  12. Juliana

    What a great recipe! Thanks for sharing.
    I finished it right now. I made my version with pecorino cheese and I used half recipe.
    Its smell wonderfull!
    Thank you so much!

    Cheers from Brasil!

  13. hawkeye214

    This is a great recipe and very easy to make. I halved the recipe to make one loaf and used half white whole wheat flour. I will definitely make this again. Next time I might try using traditional whole wheat flour instead of white whole wheat just to see what happens.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    If you choose to experiment with traditional whole wheat, you may find you need to add more liquid to your recipe. Whole grains are like a sponge! Elisabeth @ KAF

  14. me

    can one freeze this bread?

    You could probably freeze this bread just after the first rise. Defrost in the frig, shape, fill and let rise once more before baking. Or, you could fully bake this bread and freeze wrapped in foil and a freezer tight zip lock bag. Keep the foil on and reheat in a preheated oven just until warm.

    Have you tried to freeze this bread, Allison? Elisabeth @ KAF

    I have not tried to freeze – it’s just so good I eat it all up! 🙂 But I concur with all of Elisabeth’s advice. Thanks for asking! -Allison

  15. mlkruze

    This looked so good I had to try it. Easy recipe to follow and wow is it good. The next time I make it, I’m going to add pepperoni slices in with the cheese etc. It’s the bomb!

  16. deblightfoot

    This is an awesome bread with an impressive presentation. It makes your house smell like an Italian restaurant. Everyone that tried it gave it five stars! I think the cinnamon idea is brilliant, but it will be hard to beat the original.

  17. Kim

    The design was too pretty for me to ignore, so I had to go buy the ingredients to make it. It is so easy, but looks so much harder to make. I’d really like to try the design with cinnamon apple mixture.

    When I bring my second loaf to a party in a few weeks (I froze it.), I’m sure I’m going to get rave reviews.

  18. irleshay

    I’m not a big fan of garlic powder — do you think roasted garlic would work?

    Yes, you could use roasted garlic. I would probably mince them finely to use them in the filling. Kelsey@KAF

  19. plvannest

    Just took the first of these out of the oven. All I can say is WOW! Who would have thought ANYTHING could taste as good as this smells, but it does…oh it does…it does!

  20. dablues9687

    Does anything need to be done with the rest of the recipe if I omit the sugar?

    The recipe needs the sugar, to come out as described. Omitting it will be an experiment. Frank @ KAF.

  21. Bojana

    Delicious. I’m so happy I made this bread and it turned so soft and smelled really nice. Very good recipe. I don’t always have success with bread making but this was really good. The photos also help. Thanks.

    Very glad you enjoyed the bread, Bojana. We love teaching people how to bake – and bread can be a challenge. As you say, the photos help. Enjoy! PJH

  22. "Flour Petals by Daisy"

    Made two loaves this afternoon for the first time and all I have to say was “OMG! No wonder she won First Prize!!” The recipe was so easy to follow. The result was fantastic. Sure, you don’t have to cut it open and shape the “S” or tuck it under…but those extra steps made the loaves SO much more beautiful and fun! I wil most definitely make them again, perhaps with additional filling such as sausage or bacon pieces (GASP!) Or a sweet version. I think I saw somebody said apple cinnamon? I also find a little salt and freshly ground black pepper really add flavors. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. I am thrilled!!
    We love hearing how much fun our fellow bakers are having! Happy baking. Betsy@KAF

  23. aps

    Hi! The bread looks amazing. Quick question though, we are vegetarian and do not use eggs. Can I skip the eggs in the recipe or can you suggest a replacement that would work? Thanks.

    You can simply omit the eggs if you like–replace their volume with an equivalent of milk–in this recipe, I would start with adding 1/3 cup more of milk and adjusting the dough texture as you see fit. Otherwise, using a suitable egg replacer would be fine, although you’ll be missing the flavor of the eggs (though it is plenty tasty without!). Best, Kim@KAF

  24. lynsco

    Hello! I am dying to try this this weekend to take into work the next day, but I am wondering about how to store it overnight because of the savoury ingredients? Also if I make one for my boss and wrap in foil should she put it back into the oven for 10 mins to heat it up a little?? Thanks in advance!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Overnight, I would wrap it and place it in the fridge and then you in the morning (and your boss when she is ready to eat it), could just refresh the loaf in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes and you should be all set to go. Enjoy! Jocelyn@KAF

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *