Introduction: Pane Bianco
King Arthur Flour has a monthly Bakealong Challenge, where they choose a recipe and "challenge" everyone to make it. I get quite a bit of enjoyment from these, as I love baking, and it's fun to see many people bake the same recipe and how they all turn out. Last August was the Pane Bianco bread challenge, and it looked so pretty I had to make it!
Pane Bianco is a soft bread filled with tomatoes, garlic, basil, and shredded cheese, it's basically Caprese salad filled bread, and my family LOVES Caprese salad. Since it was prime tomato season I roasted my own local tomatoes, and the basil came from our garden. You really don't need anything to top the bread with, it's nice and tender, but you could butter it, or, drizzle some olive oil on top. Some balsamic reduction would actually be perfect. You could even double down on the caprese theme by using it for Caprese Bruschetta.
Pane Bianco looks stunning, and your first thought might be, "no chance I can make this." I assure you it's actually quite easy! If you've ever made cinnamon rolls you already have the advantage of knowing how to roll dough and spread filling, after that all you need to do is roll the filled dough, use scissors to make a cut down the middle exposing the filling, then tuck the ends underneath the dough in an "S" shape, pinch dough ends together, let rise, and bake. Voila! A beautiful loaf of bread awaits you!
I served the bread with Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta, the flavors complimented each other beautifully, it would pair well with virtually all pasta dishes. I can also envision many other fillings; most pizza toppings would probably work as long as they are finely chopped and not too heavy. Perhaps a simple pesto filling, or, I think Spinach Artichoke Pane Bianco would be amazing!
I know bread can be intimidating, but I hope this recipe shows that you don't have to be an expert baker to make beautiful, delicious, bread, enjoy!
Makes one loaf
Recipe from King Arthur Flour
Step 1: Gather Ingredients
For the roasted cherry tomatoes:
About 1/2 lb. cherry tomatoes (mine were fairly large heirloom tomatoes)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
For the dough:
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
For the filling:
3/4 cup shredded Italian-blend cheese or the cheese of your choice
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes or your own oven-roasted tomatoes
3 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, green or purple
Step 2: Roast Cherry Tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Toss together the tomatoes, vinegar, and olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet (I line a quarter sheet pan with nonstick foil for easy cleanup). Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes have burst open and are tender. Remove from oven and let cool.
Step 3: Prepare Dough
Combine all of the dough ingredients in a bowl (or the bucket of your bread machine), and mix and knead — by hand, using a mixer, or in your bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a smooth, very soft dough. I followed the common bread dough directions of mixing the wet ingredients together, combining the dry ingredients in the mixer, then adding the liquid ingredients. The dough should stick a bit to the bottom of the bowl if you're using a stand mixer.
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.
Step 4: Prepare Filling
Finely chop the tomatoes, measure out 1/2 cup, and save any remaining for another use. Add tomatoes to a small bowl with the cheese, garlic, and basil and mix until combined.
Step 5: Roll Out, Fill, Shape, and Bake Bread
Gently deflate the dough. Flatten and pat it into a 22" x 8 1/2" rectangle.
Spread with the cheese filling.
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.
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.
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 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 20 to 25 minutes to prevent over-browning.
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.