Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Babes Bake Italian

The colors of the Italian flag...red, green and white...are all on display in this month's delicious bread, Pane Bianco with Garlic, Basil and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, brought to us by Kitchen of the Month Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. The fragrance that fills your kitchen when you bake this seems very Italian, too. The best part about this bread isn't the colors or the fragrance, but the taste. It is savory and you can really taste the sun-dried tomatoes, followed by the herby basil, warm garlic and wonderful melty cheese. I used some roasted garlic, as suggested by fellow Babe, Elizabeth, and it brought a depth of flavor that was delightful. Otherwise I pretty much followed the recipe as written (shocking!) until it came time to shape the second half of the dough. (Well, my dough did take longer to rise, but it was a chilly day.)

For the first half I made the lovely 'S' shape that the recipe gave directions for. I really enjoyed working with this dough. It was easy to shape.

For the second half I decided to make mini-buns to take to a morning meeting the following morning. I baked them a little less than golden (see photo), then reheated them in the morning until they were warm and golden. They were a hit!

The key to the mini buns is to roll the dough very thin and about twice as wide as the shaped loaf. Since you are spreading the same amount of filling ingredients over twice the amount of rolled dough, the buns don't get too filled and stay small. The last 'trick' is to then divide the filled dough in half (I used my bench scraper) so that each piece is about the same width (8 1/2 inches) as the big loaf, then roll up the dough from that point, one roll to the right, one to the left, which gives you two thin snakes of rolled dough. Cut each snake in pieces about an inch thick and lay those pieces cut side down in a greased cake pan...or two. Cover and let rise as you do the big loaf, but bake them for a shorter time, about 25 - 30 minutes. You should end up with a nice tray of savory, cute mini-buns with all the flavor and cheesy goodness of the big loaf.

Thank you Natashya for choosing this great recipe, and for giving us recipes by weight, volume, etc. I used the one by grams and it worked out perfectly.
Also sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for the wonderful weekly Yeastpotting event. Check it out!

With a bread this delicious and fun to play with, I'm sure you want to be a Bread Baking Buddy, right? Just bake this bread, take a photo or two to share, and e-mail Natashya with a short description of your experience that that photo or two. She'll get a Buddy Badge to you and include you in the round-up. You have until April 29th, so do consider making Pane Bianco with Tomatoes, Basil and Garlic!
Tomato Basil Garlic Filled Pane Bianco
Ingredients by grams: (direct from King Arthur Flour website)

• 113g warm water
• 50g sugar
• 4 teaspoons instant yeast
• 227g warm low-fat milk
• 67g extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 723g bread flour
• 1 (241g) jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
• 4 cloves roasted garlic (or more if you really like garlic) my change
• 170g shredded Italian blend cheese, divided
• 14g chopped fresh basil

1) Combine the water, sugar, yeast, milk, olive oil, eggs, salt, and flour, and mix and knead by hand, stand mixer, or bread machine until you've made a cohesive, soft dough. If you're kneading in a stand mixer, it should take 5 to 7 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom. In a bread machine (or by hand), it should form a smooth ball. Place the dough in a greased bowl, and turn to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, about 45 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, thoroughly drain the sun-dried tomatoes; lay them on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Using kitchen shears, finely chop the tomatoes.

3) Line two baking sheets with parchment. Gently deflate the dough and divide it in half. Roll one piece into a 22" x 8 1/2" rectangle. Sprinkle on half the garlic, cheese, basil, and tomatoes.

4) Starting with one long edge, roll the dough into a log the long way.

 Pinch the edges to seal.

5) Place the log seam-side down on a baking sheet. Using kitchen shears, start 1/2" from one end and cut the log lengthwise down the center about 1" deep, to within 1/2" of the other end.

6) 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.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough.

7) While the loaves are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

8) Bake the first loaf for 35 to 40 minutes. Tent the loaf with foil after 15 to 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. Bake the remaining loaf.

9) Remove loaves from their pans; cook on racks. Store any leftovers well-wrapped, at room temperature.
Yield: 2 loaves.

For mini-bun directions, see the post, above the recipe.


  1. Wow they look so delicious and tasty. Love the colours of the Italian flag and the shape of the swirled loaf is fantastic!

  2. Gorgeous! And your mini bun idea is inspired. I'm going to try them next. Glad you enjoyed the bread!

  3. I can't get over the fact that the version in grams worked out so well. I weighed mine in grams too but with a revised gram value for the liquids (King Arthur Flour's gram values were on the low side) and still, I thought the dough was quite stiff.

    Your bread looks fabulous though. I especially like that the tomatoes didn't get even remotely charred.

    And your little buns look equally wonderful.

  4. The Italian Flag, yes or Christmas LOL
    They're gorgeous!

  5. How come I know I read this and twice I left comments ... and they aren't here. I'm losing it.

    I love your little rolls and wish I'd cut mine smaller. Your figure8 is loverly but I really am most taken by how vivid end your Italian coolers are. Roasted garlic wins over powdered every time!

  6. Very nice. While I haven't posted mine yet, I wish I'd seen your mini buns first. They look wonderful!

  7. Anonymous8:02 PM

    How smart to make mini rolls! It makes it much easier to with friends.