Pane Bianco Bakealong: Challenge #1


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

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!


  1. Maryann

    Hi~I so enjoyed making this bread. It came out beautiful. The taste was delishes nice and light. I also didn’t know how to send the photo.I look forward to September with the next recipe.
    Thank you

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Katy. It sounds like it just needed a little more water to give it the hydration it needed to be soft. Next time, if you notice it’s tough during mixing, add water in a teaspoon at a time and let that incorporate. You’re aiming for a soft, tacky dough. Annabelle@KAF

  2. Chloe

    The bread tasted stale (dry and not chewy) right out of the oven ( it actually tasted better when I microwave it the next day) although I weighted the KAF bread flour and followed the instructions exactly. I live in California where the air is very dry; should I have cut back on the flour? How do I know when there’s enough flour?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Chloe. You want your dough to be soft like your cheek, and tacky like a piece of tape or a sticky note. You can also ensure it doesn’t dry out in the oven by testing the temperature of the center of the loaf. You want to aim for 190°F for a perfect loaf. When mixing, feel free to add extra water by the teaspoon as needed. Annabelle@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Gretchen. You want to aim for between 190°F and 195°F. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  3. Shari

    If I bake this and then freeze it to serve later, what’s the best way to thaw and reheat for serving?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Shari. We’d recommend pulling it out of the freezer and letting it thaw out on the counter overnight, still wrapped in plastic wrap. Before serving replace the plastic with tin foil and bake it at 350°F for 10 minutes or so or until it’s warm. Annabelle@KAF

  4. Angela Meixell

    I tore this recipe out of the catalog. It turned out great! I couldn’t believe that it was as easy as it was. My guests and husband raved about how good it was. ( I have a photo, but don’t know how to add it in.)

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Angela, we’d love to see a photo of your Pane Bianco! The best place to share your success with the community of King Arthur Flour bakers is on our Facebook page. If you’re not on Facebook, you can send it to our Baker’s Hotline team at customercare[at]kingarthurflour[dot]com, using the appropriate symbols in place of the bracketed words. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can use an offset spatula (or a similar tool) to spread the garlic on the rolled out dough. If you find that the dough is too soft and snags when you try to spread the garlic, you can also try tossing the minced garlic with the cheese before sprinkling the cheese on top of the dough. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  5. Linda

    Baked as the recipe detailed and result was excellent, very tasty. I would also want to add olives and experiment with different cheese next time I make this bread.

  6. Carole

    Hi, what do you think about making it the day before you need it, and putting it in the fridge for the 2nd rise? Then baking it the next day?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Carole, because of the unique way the Pane Bianco dough is sliced and shaped, we recommend baking the dough the same day that it’s shaped. Otherwise, all the yummy fillings tend to spill out and the loaf loses its shape as it rests for an extended period of time. If you’d like to do some of the prep work ahead of time, consider mixing up the dough and letting it rise in the fridge overnight. The next day, shape and bake as directed in the recipe, allowing the dough to rise for longer if necessary to account for the cold dough. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  7. Rockyrd

    Hi KAF,
    Thanks for another great recipe idea. I made this yesterday for a dinner party and everyone loved it. As always, your explanations and photos were perfect. It did look beautiful too. I added sesame seed to the top. My only comment would be that is was a bit “cheap” on the filling. You did say not to overstuff it but it needs something more. Maybe I will do olives as suggested in it next time or some diced pepperoni or something else to jazz it up. We are used to the stuffed crusty breads from NJ that are overfilled and leaking out oils from the deli meats etc they put in them.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We wouldn’t want you serving a “cheap” baked good, now would we? You’re more than welcome to increase the quantity of ingredients in the filling of this bread (and/or add a few extra additions like olives and feta). We just warn bakers not to fill the dough too much, as it tends to spill open when the log is cut if it’s holding lots of heavy ingredients. Placing the whole swirl of filled dough in a 9″ by 13″ pan can sometimes help hold in all the deliciousness, if you find that your Pane Bianco is opening up while it bakes (due to a few extra toppings). Enjoy! Kye@KAF

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