Have you ever wanted to learn how to make Italian bread at home? 👩🍳🍞 Now is the time, my friends! This pane bianco is waaaay better than the Subway Italian bread or something you’d find at the grocery store. The amazing aroma from this rustic Italian bread will get you hungry pretty quickly. Just imagine the golden-brown cheddar cheese, roasted red peppers, garlic, and fresh basil all baking together in a soft Italian bread dough. Baking doesn’t get much better than this.
As soon as I saw photos of pane bianco on the Internet, I was attracted to its beautiful shape and vibrant filling. While I’m not sure how authentic Italian this bread might be, I sure am glad that I made it. Even if you’ve never made homemade bread before, I encourage you to learn how to make Italian bread–especially this soft, yet crusty loaf. Perhaps you and I can say that pane bianco is possibly the best Italian bread recipe in the world! 😍😍😍
But what is the definition of pane bianco? Quite simply, it means white bread in Italian. But it’s not just plain ol’ white bread; it’s stuffed white bread packed with cheesy, red peppery goodness. And the calories in this Italian bread? Not too bad, so you can have a second slice. Save the rest to toast tomorrow, and top with yet more cheese. Leftovers are so good. 😊
Learn how to make homemade bread with these other easy bread recipes.
Super Easy Homemade Italian Bread: this simple white loaf is perfect for beginning bread bakers.
Easy White Mountain Bread: a large round loaf perfect for using as a bread bowl for dips and soups.
Homemade Cuban Bread: Pan Cubano: you don’t have to move to Miami or Cuba to get good Cuban bread–you can make it yourself!Print
Pane bianco is a rustic yet beautiful Italian white bread that your family will love. Fresh basil, grated cheddar cheese, garlic, olive oil, and roasted red peppers flavor this colorful and tasty loaf. This makes fantastic sandwiches, too!
For the White Bread Dough
- 4 cups bread flour (500g)
- 3 teaspoons fast-action yeast (10g)
- 2 teaspoons salt (10g)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (4g)
- 1/4 cup olive oil (53g)
- 2 large eggs
- scant 1/2 cup whole milk (100 ml)
- scant 1/2 cup water (100 ml)
For the Filling
- 1 1/4 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated and lightly packed (113g)
- 2/3 cup roasted red peppers, drained and chopped (124g)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (17g)
- 5 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced (6-7 cloves)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
Making the White Bread Dough (25 minutes + 1 hour proving)
- Stir together the milk and water in a small saucepan and place over medium heat until the liquid reaches 115 F.
- Pour the bread flour into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl, stirring each one in with your finger. Make sure the salt doesn’t touch the yeast directly, since it can kill the yeast.
- Add the sugar, olive oil, and eggs to the flour, then mix on low speed with the paddle attachment. Gradually trickle in the milk and water mixture until a sticky dough has formed. You may need to add extra water.
- Change the attachment to the dough hook and knead on medium-low speed for a few minutes. Check to see if the dough is sufficiently kneaded by breaking off a lump of dough and stretching it between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. If the dough stretches until it’s translucent in places without breaking, it’s kneaded enough; if not, then knead for a bit longer and check again.
- Shape the dough into a ball, place in a oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside to prove at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Alternatively, place in the fridge to prove overnight.
Preparing the Filling (25 minutes)
- Grate the cheese, roughly chop the basil leaves, and mince the garlic. Drain and chop the roasted red peppers, then place them in a sieve set over a bowl to catch any excess liquid.
Shaping the Pane Bianco (10 minutes + 45 minutes proving)
- Line an 11 by 17-inch rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Once the dough has finished its first prove, turn it out onto a floured surface and punch it down all over to knock out the gas pockets.
- Roll the dough into a 8 1/2 by 24-inch rectangle, then brush with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
- Sprinkle the cheese, basil, and garlic evenly over the dough. Squeeze the roasted peppers with the back of a spoon to drain any remaining liquid, then spread them over the dough. Having a wet filling will make the dough soggy as it proves. Be careful not to overstuff the dough, as this will make it difficult to shape later.
- Starting with a long side, roll the dough into a log, then pinch the seam and ends to seal. Use a sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthwise to create two long ropes.
- Turn both ropes so the filling faces up and transfer to the prepared cookie sheet. Form the ropes into an “S,” then bring the ends under the middle of the S to form a figure eight. Squeeze the ends together firmly to seal.
- Place the cookie sheet inside of a large, clean garbage bag, inflate the bag, and tuck the ends under the tray to seal. Set aside to prove for a second time at room temperature for about 45 minutes, until the loaf is about doubled in size and the dough barely springs back when gently prodded with a fingertip.
Baking the Pane Bianco (35 minutes)
- About 10 minutes before the pane bianco is done proving, preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Bake the fully proved pane bianco at 375 F for about 35 minutes, until the loaf is well risen, the cheese is nicely browned, and the loaf has an internal temperature of at least 190 F. If you notice the loaf browning too quickly, cover it with aluminum foil.
- Allow the loaf to cool on a wire rack, then serve.
To be more authentic, bake the pane bianco loaf on a baking stone instead of a cookie sheet.