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.
- Use bread flour, not all-purpose. AP lacks the protein content necessary to produce a high-rising, chewy bread.
- Knead thoroughly. The dough must pass the windowpane test (see recipe card for details) before proving.
- Drain fillings well. Too much liquid in the filling will make the dough mushy and difficult to shape.
- Don’t overstuff. Otherwise, you’ll have ingredients spilling out everywhere, making a mess and burning on the cookie sheet.
- Use a thermometer to check if the loaf is done. It should be 190 F in the center.
- Category: Bread
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: pane bianco bread, pane bianco recipe