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Super Delicious Pane Bianco

This recipe makes a tasty loaf filled with fresh basil, tomatoes, garlic, and shredded cheese; the bread has wonderful soft texture, and is packed with flavor. The unique shape is simple to achieve, and makes an impressive presentation.

Definition of a baking thrill: Making a loaf of bread that tastes like a great slice of pizza, looks like it was shaped and baked by an expert — and is simplicity itself to execute, no matter your skill level.

Pane Bianco Recipe

For the dough:
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour* (see note)
  • 1 package (2¼ tsp, ¼oz, 7g) RED STAR Platinum Superior Baking Yeast
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup lukewarm milk (120-130°F)
  • ⅓ cup lukewarm water (120-130°F)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
For the Filling
  • ¾ cup shredded Italian-blend cheese or the cheese of your choice
  • ½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes or your own oven-roasted tomatoes
  • 3 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil, green or purple
  1. To make the 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. The dough should stick a bit to the bottom of the bowl if you're using a stand mixer.
  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise until it's doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, thoroughly drain the tomatoes, patting them dry. Use kitchen shears to cut them into smaller bits.
  4. Gently deflate the dough. Flatten and pat it into a 22x8½ -inch rectangle. Evenly spread the cheese, tomatoes, garlic, and basil over dough.
  5. Starting with one long edge, roll the dough into a log the long way. Pinch the edges to seal.
  6. Place the log seam-side down on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Using kitchen shears, start ½ inch from one end and cut the log lengthwise down the center about 1-inch deep, to within ½ inch of the other end.
  8. 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.
  9. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, 45 to 60 minutes.
  10. While the loaf is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  11. Uncover the bread, and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 to 25 minutes to prevent over-browning.
  12. 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.

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