Pane Bianco Bakealong: Challenge #1

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Definition of a baking thrill: Making a loaf of bread that tastes like a great slice of pizza, looks like it was shaped and baked by an expert — and is simplicity itself to execute, no matter your skill level.

We’re talking Pane Bianco, our first Bakealong challenge. Filled with fresh basil, tomatoes, garlic, and shredded cheese, this bread has wonderfully soft texture and is packed with flavor. The unique shape is simple to achieve, and makes an impressive presentation.

While the recipe calls for oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, August is the perfect month to substitute your own home-roasted tomatoes. Pair those tomatoes with basil from your garden, and you’ll never enjoy a fresher-tasting stuffed bread.

Let’s make it! Read all the way through this blog post before you start; we offer some handy test-kitchen tips at the end.

And remember, take #bakealong photos from start to finish; you’ll get some great process shots for Instagram — as well as beauty shots of the final product, of course.

Mix the following together in a bowl:

3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour*
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/3 cup lukewarm water
3 tablespoons olive oil

*See our tips at the end of this post for substituting all-purpose flour for bread flour.

Pane Bianco Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Knead the dough until it’s fairly smooth and elastic — by hand, using a mixer, or in your bread machine set on the dough cycle. As you can see, the dough will be quite soft.

Pane Bianco Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Lightly grease a bowl or other large container. Put the dough into the container, cover it, and let it rise for about an hour, or until it’s quite puffy; it should just about double in size. I like to use an 8-cup measure to see when it’s doubled, but any large-ish bowl will do.

Pane Bianco Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Gently deflate the dough and round it into a workable ball. Let it rest for 10 minutes or so (no need to cover it). This short rest will relax the dough’s gluten, making it easier to roll/pat out.

While the dough is resting, gather your filling ingredients:

3/4 cup shredded Italian-blend cheese or the cheese of your choice
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and diced into 1/2″ pieces; or your own oven-roasted tomatoes, diced
3 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, green or purple

Pane Bianco Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Roll and pat the dough into a large rectangle, about 22″ x 8 1/2″. A rolling mat with marked measurements is a big help here.

Pane Bianco Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Spread the dough with the cheese, tomatoes, garlic, and basil; I’m using purple basil here. Note the tomatoes, too; if you use your own tomatoes, make sure they’ve been roasted thoroughly enough that they won’t exude any additional juice as the bread bakes.

Notice the quantity of filling seems rather spare. No, it’s not because I’m a culinary ascetic, but because too much stuffing can lead to a misshapen, messy looking loaf.

Starting with one long edge, roll the dough into a log the long way.

Pane Bianco Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Pinch the edges to seal. Place the log seam-side down on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Using kitchen shears, start 1/2″ from one end and cut the log lengthwise down the center about 1″ deep, to within 1/2″ of the other end.

Pane Bianco Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Keeping the cut side up, form an “S” shape. Tuck both ends under the center of the S to form a figure-8; pinch the ends together gently to seal.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes.

While the loaf is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Uncover the bread, and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it with foil after 25 to 30 minutes to prevent over-browning. When it’s done, remove the bread from the oven and transfer it to a rack to cool.

Pane Bianco Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

See how colorful the bread looks using green basil? While I love the flavor of purple basil, green is definitely more attractive. For even greater visual impact, sprinkle additional chopped fresh basil over the loaf once it’s out of the oven.

Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

So, our first Bakealong challenge looks entirely do-able, right? Trust me, it is. I’ve made this bread several times in the last few weeks, sometimes adding other ingredients — diced black olives, or artichoke tapenade. Just make sure you don’t add TOO much filling. Speaking of:

Pane Bianco Bakealong tips

  • Don’t want to use bread flour? The bread may not hold its shape quite as well, but feel free to substitute all-purpose flour 1:1 for the bread flour in the recipe. Reduce the water to 1/4 cup.
  • Don’t be tempted to go heavy on the fillings; over-stuffing this bread will create a messy-looking loaf.
  • Be careful not to let the bread rise too long; over-risen bread will lose its shape.
  • Some of the filling will be exposed as the bread bakes, which means it may char. When shaping the loaf, tuck any larger pieces of tomato or basil down into the dough. And keep your eye on it. When the loaf is a light golden brown, tent it with aluminum foil to protect the filling from burning.
  • Are you baking gluten-free? Try our Gluten-Free Focaccia, following the tip for adding filling.

Interested in more? See our complete collection of Bakealong recipes.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Joce

    Hi KAF Folks,

    I am planning to make Pane Bianco to serve at a family party. Since I’ve got a lot to prepare, I am wondering if I can make the bread the day before and then reheat the day of? If so, should I reheat the whole whole or slice before reheating? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Definitely, Joce! Just keep it whole and wrapped in plastic wrap on the counter. Before you serve it, wrap it in foil and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes and you’ll be good to go. Annabelle@KAF

  2. Leah

    I’ve just come to this on my computer instead of my phone and my questions (above) are answered. It will be perfect for my piano recital!! Thank you.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Amma. Yeast breads don’t easily lend itself to the absence of gluten. We don’t recommend you try to bake gluten-free Pane Bianco, but instead urge you to check out our tempting array of gluten-free bread recipes. Kindly, Annabelle@KAF

  3. Karen K

    I can’t wait to try this! Wondering though: If I use Italian tipo 00 flour, what adjustments should I make?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We love your enthusiasm to bake, Karen! Switching to Italian Style Flour in the recipe will prove quite a challenge. Our Italian Style Flour (also known as 00) is only 8.5% protein, versus the 12.7% of the Bread Flour called for in this recipe. Because of the lower protein, this flour is ideal for crisp crackers, delicate pastas, or light pizza crusts and flatbreads. You’re more than welcome to experiment using it in this recipe, just know the texture will be more crispy rather than chewy, it might not rise very much, and you’ll only need a fraction of the liquid. We’d recommend keeping the milk as is as that lends both tenderness and flavor, and just add water by the teaspoon as needed. It will be tasty, but will likely involve a good deal of trial and error. Happy experimenting! Annabelle@KAF

  4. Shikha

    Super recipe….Came out exactly as the picture…and it was amazing to taste.
    i used tomato paste instead of chopped tomatoes to make it a bit moist.
    A 2 pound outcome out of which 1.2 pounds was finished overnight between 2 ppl.
    :p 🙂

    Please suggest on how to substitute the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour.

    thanks a ton

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Shikha. You can substitute Whole Wheat Flour for 50% of the flour in this recipe, just be sure to add about 1 extra tablespoon of water for every cup of Whole Wheat Flour. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Mariss, breads with a large amount of surface area aren’t always the best choices for freezing, since they are more likely to develop freezer burn. However, if you wrap your baked loaf tightly in plastic wrap and only freeze it for a few weeks, you should still get good results. Try thawing the bread at room temperature for a few hours and then heating it in a low (300°F) oven for about 5-10 minutes until it’s warmed all the way through. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      No reason at all, Janae, if you think that’ll be easier for you. We like using scissors because we find it easier to snip through the layers of dough, but you’re welcome to give it a shot using a sharp kitchen knife instead. Try your best not to squish the layers together as you make cuts; you want them to open up in order to achieve the pretty presentation. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  5. Anita Pradeep

    My kitchen has this heavenly aroma of Pane Bianco.. Thank you so much.. I think my filling was a bit too much so it kind of lost shape but I will correct it for sure while I bake again.. Where do I post the pics.. Can’t wait to do it

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Anita, as you’ve probably found out by now, the Pane Bianco tastes just as good as it looks and smells. If you’d like to post a picture, you can share it on your personal Instagram or Twitter account using #bakealong (if you use those platforms), or you can post it on our Facebook page too. We look forward to seeing your loaf, and thanks for baking along with us! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Looking to bake gluten-free? We recommend using our Gluten-Free Focaccia recipe and following the Baker’s Tips to make a sun-dried tomato, herb, and garlic filled version that’s just as tasty as the gluten-full Pane Bianco. Happy GF baking! Kye@KAF

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