It's time for another edition of the Secret Recipe Club. This month I got to snoop around Erin's blog, A Tale of One Foodie's Culinary Adventures. This blog is full of great recipes and wine reviews. There is definitely something for everyone. I had a really hard time deciding what to make, but when I saw this bread, I knew I had to try it. This Pane Bianco is probably one of the most beautiful breads I've seen in a long time. It looks complicated, but in reality, it is very easy. One of my favorite things about it is that you can personalize it to fit your tastes. I'm a big fan of recipes that are easy to make both kid friendly and grown up sophisticated. With all my little ones running around, we tend to gravitate to family friendly fare, so I don't always get to use some of the ingredients that I enjoy.
Since this bread makes 2 loaves, I made one for the kiddos and one for me and my hubby. The first loaf had chopped pepperoni, finely chopped green pepper and an Italian blend cheese. The second had chopped sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and an Italian blend cheese. And they were both fabulous. But toppings aside, the bread has really great flavor. This recipe is a winner all the way around! When I pulled it out of the oven, my family "oohed and aahed"! It was fun to hear my little kiddos tell me I was magic for making the bread look that way. I have to tell you, I got a new oven, and I'm still adjusting to the way it bakes, so my bread ended up a little darker than normal. Next time, it will be perfect!
One tip that Erin gave in the recipe, and I agree, is to use drier ingredients. Stay away from sauces in the filling. The pesto I used was perfect, but don't use anything saucier than that. Now, on to this beautiful bread!
Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomato Pane Bianco
Makes 2 Loaves
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup warm low-fat milk
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons salt
6 cups bread flour
1 (8 1/2-ounce) jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup pesto
1 1/2 cups shredded Italian blend cheese, divided (or any cheese you have on hand - I used cheddar, goat cheese and Parmesan)
2/3 cup chopped fresh basil (or any fresh mixed herbs - basically whatever you have on hand)
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.
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.
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. Spread with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and finally cheese.
Starting with one long edge, roll the dough into a log the long way. Pinch the edges to seal. Place the log seam-side down on a baking sheet. Using a small sharp knife, 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.
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.
While the loaves are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the loaves for 35 to 40 minutes. Tent the loaf with foil after 15 minutes to prevent over-browning. Remove loaves from their baking trays; cool on racks. Store any leftovers well-wrapped, at room temperature.