Recipes » Bread Recipes » Pane Bianco with Tomato, Basil, and Garlic

Pane Bianco with Tomato, Basil, and Garlic

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5 from 5 votes
Italian Pane Bianco is a soft white bread filled with sundried tomatoes, cheese, fresh basil, and garlic and shaped into a figure-8.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Finished pane bianco on a cooling rack.

This beautiful Italian Pane Bianco (Italian for “white bread”) is a soft bread filled with sundried tomatoes, cheese, fresh basil, and garlic which is shaped into a figure-8. And even though it looks a little complicated, it’s really easy as pie! Great to serve alongside your favorite Italian dinner or as a fun party appetizer with an olive oil dip.

This easy bread recipe came from a bread baking group I used to be part of along with several other food bloggers. We’d set a theme for each month and bake something related.

Finished pane bianco on a cooling rack.

One month the theme was Italian Breads. Although there are loads of beautiful, traditional Italian breads, I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a shaped loaf like a simple braided or knotted bread. This beautiful curvy loaf with its Italian flair and flavor was a big hit!

I posted a photo of the finished loaf of Pane Bianco on Instagram right after it came out of the oven and it got more attention than any photo I’ve ever posted. Not only is it visually stunning, it’s really delicious and it makes your house smell wonderful while it’s baking!

More Bread Recipes

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • One of the easiest breads to make and doesn’t require much time or attention.
  • You can change the filling to suit your own tastes.
  • Very nice for a casual party or family dinner.
  • Uses simple ingredients readily available at any grocery store.
  • Makes a great neighbor or friend gift!
  • Looks beautiful on the dinner table.
  • Pair it with an olive oil dip for a fantastic appetizer.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Bread flour (has a higher protein content that helps the dough strengthen and rise properly)
  • Egg (binds the dough together and helps form the outer crust)
  • Instant yeast (makes the bread rise)
  • Sugar (feeds the yeast while it activates)
  • Warm water and milk (hydrates the flour and makes the dough)
  • Salt (balances and enhances all the flavors in the bread)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (used to oil the bowl so that the dough rises without sticking)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes (lends a zesty flavor to the bread)
  • Garlic powder (classic flavor in Italian cooking)
  • Shredded Italian cheese (cheese turns this bread into a treat!)
  • Chopped fresh basil (adds a bright, fresh taste that pairs well with the other flavors)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Make Pane Bianco

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Mix the Dough

Left: Ingredients in a large mixing bowl; Right: Finished ball of dough resting in large mixing bowl

Place the first 8 ingredients (water through flour) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or large mixing bowl if working by hand). Mix on lowest speed (or stir with a wooden spoon) until a soft dough begins to form.

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Increase the speed slightly and knead for 5 to 7 minutes or until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Hand kneading time should be approximately the same and should produce a smooth ball of dough. 

Grease a large, clean bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, turning so that the top is greased.

First Rise

Mixing bowl with doubled dough after the first rise.

Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, thoroughly drain the sundried tomatoes and finely dice them. Chop the fresh basil.

Roll and Fill the Dough

Top: 22 inch by 8.5 inch rectangle of dough; Bottom: Dough rectangle with filling ingredients evenly sprinkled over.

Gently deflate the dough. Roll it into a rectangle about 22” x 8.5”. Evenly distribute the garlic powder, cheese, tomatoes, and basil over the rectangle of dough.

Filled rectangle of dough being rolled into a cylinder and sealed along the edge.

Starting with a long edge, roll the dough into a log as you would do for making cinnamon rolls. Pinch the edge to seal.

Illustration of how to cut the rolled dough to expose the filling for later shaping.

Place the rolled dough on a parchment paper lined baking sheet with the seam side down. Using kitchen shears or a very sharp knife, start about 1 inch from an end and slice the roll about 1” deep to within 1 inch of the opposite end.

Shaping the Pane Bianco

Illustration of how to shape the Pane Bianco into an "S" shape on a parchment lined baking tray

Form the sliced roll into an “S” shape. Bring the two ends together under the roll and pinch them together.

Second Rise

Pane Bianco dough after the second rise

Cover and let rise again until doubled in size for 45 minutes to 1 hour. During the last part of the rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the Loaf

Baked loaf after removing from the oven.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Tent the loaf with foil after 15 minutes of baking if it seems to be browning too quickly. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Pane Bianco loaf sliced in half showing a cross section of the baked loaf.

What to Serve With Pane Bianco

This bread is absolutely delicious with an olive oil dip! And, of course, it’s great with any pasta meal. Pair it with my Baked Spaghetti, Egg Noodle Lasagna, or Jumbo Meatballs and you’ll have a dinner time feast.

Finished pane bianco on a cooling rack.
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Recipe Tips

  • When making any recipe with yeast, it’s best to let the dough rise to the point stated in the recipe (i.e. “until doubled in bulk”) rather than watching the clock.
  • Let the bread cool to room temperature before cutting and serving. The interior of a loaf of bread continues to cook as it cools and it’s important to allow that to take place.
  • Don’t try to substitute fresh tomatoes for the sun-dried in this recipe. That would cause the dough to be too wet.
  • It is important to use bread flour for this recipe. It’s gluten structure gives strength to the dough.

Variations

  • Add a tablespoon of mixed dried Italian seasoning to the dough for a flavor boost.
  • Add sliced pepperoni or salami to the filling.
  • A half-teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes in the filling makes for a spicy addition.

Storing Homemade Bread

Store your bread in an airtight plastic bag at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. This bread can also be frozen if wrapped properly (wrap with a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil on the outside) and kept for about 2 months in the freezer.

FAQs

What makes this bread Italian?

Of course, the filling ingredients give this bread an Italian flair. However, Italian breads typically contain both milk and olive oil, and sometimes a small amount of sugar, giving the dough a richer quality. They’re also usually shorter and plumper than other breads.

What does “Pane Bianco” mean?

Pane Bianco literally means “white bread” in Italian.

Does it have to be stuffed?

You can leave the dough unstuffed and brush it with a beautiful garlic butter or spread and sprinkle the top with fresh parsley if you’d like a plain bread.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d really appreciate you giving it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card or in the comments section.
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Finished pane bianco on a cooling rack.

Pane Bianco with Tomato, Basil, and Garlic

Italian Pane Bianco is a soft white bread filled with sundried tomatoes, cheese, fresh basil, and garlic and shaped into a figure-8.
5 from 5 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Breads
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Rising Time:: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 211kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • ½ cup low-fat milk warmed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 4 ounces oil-packed sundried tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • cup chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  • Place the first 8 ingredients (water through flour) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or large mixing bowl if working by hand). Mix on lowest speed (or stir with a wooden spoon) until a soft dough begins to form. Increase the speed slightly and knead for 5 to 7 minutes or until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Hand kneading time should be approximately the same and should produce a smooth ball of dough.
  • Grease a large, clean bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, turning so that the top is greased. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • While the dough is rising, thoroughly drain the sundried tomatoes and finely dice them. Chop the fresh basil.
  • Gently deflate the dough. Roll it into a rectangle about 22” x 8.5”. Evenly distribute the garlic powder, cheese, tomatoes, and basil over the rectangle of dough. Starting with a long edge, roll the dough into a log as you would for making cinnamon rolls. Pinch the edge to seal.
  • Place the rolled dough on a parchment paper lined baking sheet with the seam side down. Using kitchen shears or a very sharp knife, start about 1 inch from an end and slice the roll about 1” deep to within 1 inch of the opposite end (see photos for help). Form the sliced roll into an “S” shape. Bring the two ends together under the roll and pinch them together.
  • Cover and let rise again until doubled in size for 45 minutes to 1 hour. During the last part of the rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Tent the loaf with foil after 15 minutes of baking if it seems to be browning too quickly. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Notes

Tips
  • When making yeast breads, it’s best to let the dough rise to the point stated in the recipe (i.e. “until doubled in bulk”) rather than watching the clock.
  • Let the bread cool to room temperature before cutting and serving. The interior of a loaf of bread continues to cook as it cools and it’s important to allow that to take place.
  • Don’t try to substitute fresh tomatoes for the sun-dried in this recipe. That would cause the dough to be too wet.
  • It is important to use bread flour for this recipe. It’s gluten structure gives strength to the dough.
Variations
  • Add a tablespoon of mixed dried Italian seasoning to the dough for a flavor boost.
  • Add sliced pepperoni or salami to the filling.
  • A half-teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes in the filling makes for a spicy addition.
Storing Bread
Store your bread in an airtight plastic bag at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. This bread can also be frozen if wrapped properly (wrap with a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil on the outside) and kept for about 2 months in the freezer.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 211kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 437mg | Potassium: 222mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 196IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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59 Comments

    1. Without being in the kitchen with you, it’s really difficult to pinpoint what may be wrong. Bread dough can be finicky. The very first thing is to make sure you’re using fresh yeast and to proof it to make certain it’s active. Another problem could be ambient temperature. Dough likes a nice warm place to rest in while it rises. Room temperature that is too cool or drafts can affect rising. The water used to proof the yeast could have been too warm or too cool – it should be between 105 and 115ºF. The yeast could have come in contact with the salt. Never pour yeast and salt on top of each other in the mixing bowl. You could have mixed in too much flour while kneading. That will affect rising.

    1. Hi Lisa. I haven’t tested this recipe with half and half but it should work fine. The bread may turn out just a tiny bit richer than the original recipe.

  1. My husband loved this bread. I felt it was not very airy. But this is the first bread I have made. Would you suggest I need to knead it more or let it prove longer?
    Thanks

    1. Hi Lori – yes, most Italian breads are a bit dense as is this bread. It’s because of the milk and olive oil in the dough. Additional kneading and proofing would still not make this an “airy” loaf. If you’re looking for a lighter loaf, try a standard white bread recipe. The King Arthur Flour web site is a great resource for all sorts of bread recipes.

  2. Beautiful bread. I made it and it turned out as pictured. The flavor didn’t strike my family as all that interesting, even though I added more herbs and more cheese than called for. We all agreed it would be good sliced and topped with melty cheeses though.

  3. Lana, beautiful bread. Can I make it one day ahead of time, say up to step 7, and then leave it in the fridge and bake on the next day?

    1. I wouldn’t recommend it. It would most likely over-rise and then fall. I’d do it all the same day.

  4. Just found your blog through Pinterest- love it!! Your recipes are so creative! This bread is GENIUS. Love the #twelveloaves party! Now I have to go check out everyone else’s breads. I looove making bread!

  5. I’m afraid to ask this, but I don’t make bread from scratch using yeast. Do you think it would be possible to use frozen dough that I just fill and shape? This is gorgeous!

  6. Lana, just FYI, I posted in December about making a sourdough starter. Everyone does it a little differently, and I always enjoy reading about the different methods.

  7. Lana, that is a gorgeous loaf of bread! I’m on a true (no added yeast) sourdough kick right now, but next time I make a non-sourdough I might make one of these!

    1. I love sourdough, Jean, but I don’t have a starter right now. I need to get one going soon! I do hope you’ll give this one a try sometime and hope you enjoy it.

  8. Lana, this is such a stunning loaf!!! I actually made an Italian bread but it didn’t keep it’s shape at all—it tasted wonderful, but not very pretty. Yours is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Truly a masterpiece!!!

    1. So sorry you had problems with your bread, Liz. Looking forward to seeing what you make next month, though :-)

  9. There is no way I would make this. But Boy Howdy I love to eat it.
    VERY impressive. What a beautiful bread entry.

  10. This is ridiculously beautiful!! I’m so glad you included some how-to pictures because I couldn’t wrap my mind around how you did this! Creative AND beautiful! Your bread club sounds like so much fun!!

    1. Thank you, Rose! I am so enjoying being part of Twelve Loaves. It inspires me every month to try something new that I might otherwise have never tackled.