This lovely Pane Bianco (Italian for “white bread”) is a soft white 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.
This 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. 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. Something like a braided or knotted bread. I knew I’d found exactly the recipe I wanted to make when I was looking around on the King Arthur Flour web site, my number one resource for all things related to baking.
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 “likes” 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!
How to Make Pane Bianco:
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 do 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.
How to Shape the Stuffed Pane Bianco
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.
More Italian bread recipes you might enjoy:
- Calzone from A Baker’s House
- Italian Easter Cheese Bread from Kudos Kitchen By Renee
- Pane di Genzano from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Pane di Pasqua (Italian Easter Bread) from Cake Duchess
- Pane Toscano (Tuscan Bread) from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
- Rosemary Red Onion Beer Bread from Shockingly Delicious
- Tuscan Lemon Quick Bread with Limoncello Glaze from Rhubarb and Honey