Pane Bianco is an Italian soft white (bianco) bread (pane), and from what I understand generally refers to a country white bread. There is also a stuffed or filled version of the Pane Bianco. This is a “S” shaped Pane Bianco with sun dried tomatoes, cheese, garlic and basil. Some people add olives too. It’s a gorgeous bread that will have people thinking you spend a lot of time and effort making it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A lot of bread bakers across the world are celebrating World Bread Day today. It has been years since I baked bread just for this occasion. When I first started baking bread, I used to bake just for WBD every year. This seemed the perfect time to get back to that routine. WBD was round the corner, I was itching to bake some bread that I could also serve for dinner.
I have a go-to list of breads that I call my “Must Bake Breads”. Whenever some bread catches my fancy, I add it to this list. This is also the list I look through when I’m looking for something specific to bake. I used to use this list to choose breads for my We Knead to Bake group which is sadly no longer active. I decided to go back to this list for inspiration and that’s where I found the Pane Bianco.
The Pane Bianco ticked a lot of boxes for me. It is a savory bread, it is a stuffed bread, it is full of flavours we like, it’s beautiful to look at and I have a weakness for unusually shaped breads. It also helped that it is very easy to make.
I chose this recipe from King Arthur’s Flour and changed it a bit. We’re just two of us at home right now, so I halved the recipe to make a rather small loaf which cuts into about 10 slices. You can double the recipe below for a larger loaf or bake it as two small loaves.
I left the egg out from the original recipe. In the filling I used regular processed cheese because that was what I had on hand. You can use any cheese of your choice including crumbled paneer. I used sun-dried tomatoes stored in oil. I used garlic paste rather than whole garlic. This, I mixed with a little of the oil from the tomatoes and brushed it across the dough before adding the other ingredients.
I would also suggest that it is better to be a bit conservative with the amount of filling one uses in this bread. I tend to work with the “less is more” policy. While a little more of the filling would be alright if you like it that way, too much of it would end up coming out of the bread during the baking process.