Pane bianco means “white bread” in Italian, but this jazzy recipe is a cheese bread: dough stuffed inside-out with sundried tomatoes, basil, garlic and Italian cheeses.
It’s a treat for breakfast, with a light lunch like salad or soup, or with beer, wine and cocktails.
If you serve a bread basket at dinner (or at special dinners), these slices will disappear quickly!
The original recipe, by Dianna Wara of Washington, Illinois, took first place in the first-ever National Festival of Breads.
P.J. Hamel of King Arthur Flour simplified the recipe a bit so that any home baker can make it. She notes, “The unique shape is simple to achieve, and makes an impressive presentation.” Thanks to both ladies for this delicious treat!
The recipe takes 2 hours 40 minutes, because the dough must rise and then bake; but actual prep time is just 30 minutes and the steps are easy.
RECIPE: PANE BIANCO WITH SUNDRIED TOMATOES & BASIL
You can see a step-by-step pictorial at KingArthurFlour.com.
Ingredients For 1 Loaf (About 20 Slices)
1. MAKE the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients in a bowl (or the bucket of a bread machine). Mix and knead by hand or with a mixer; or in a bread machine set on the dough cycle. You should have a smooth, very soft dough that should stick a bit to the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer.
2. PLACE the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 45 to 60 minutes, or until it’s doubled in size. Meanwhile…
3. DRAIN the tomatoes thoroughly, patting them dry. Use kitchen shears to cut them into smaller bits.
4. DEFLATE gently deflate the dough. Flatten and pat it into a 22″ x 8 1/2″ rectangle. Spread with the cheese, tomatoes, garlic, and basil.
5. STARTING with one long edge, roll the dough into a log the long way. Pinch the edges to seal. Place the log seam-side down on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
6. 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.
7. 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 to seal. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, 45 to 60 minutes. While the loaf is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
8. UNCOVER the bread and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 to 25 minutes to prevent over-browning.
9. REMOVE the bread from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days; freeze for longer storage.