Pan Bianco

Sounds so much better in Italian doesn't it? " Pan Bianco" is simply "white bread". This lovely loaf is a far cry from the gluey Wonder Bread style white bread of the US. It's got a strong crust that holds up well when using it to mop up the last of the sauce or piling it high with olive oil drenched tomatoes and basil for a sublime bruchetta. It's very lightly salted making it a perfect partner for salty prociutto, sharp provolone, or smoky fish like the Neopol smoked trout pictured below.

Pan Bianco

6 tsp yeast
pinch sugar
pinch of salt (if you want saltier bread, go heavier here but I suggest trying it lightly salted at least once).
1 1/2 cups tepid water
1 pound, 2oz bread flour (we love the Daisy Organic White Bread flour here...yes, we carry it!)
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Put the yeast into a bowl with the pinch of sugar. Stir in the water and leave it to do it' thing. Put the flour in a large, wide bowl or right onto a work surface. I just pile it all on the counter and get to work. I don't like to be fenced in by the bowl and this way it's more enticing to any helping hands that might be strolling by. You could do the dough hook/mixer method, but you won't have near the bread making experience that you will by hand kneading. Add the yeast, a pinch of salt and the oil, and mix in to incorporate well.

Now just go for it. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until you have a smooth, compact elastic ball. Add a little more flour or water if necessary. Put the dough in a lightly floured bowl, cover with a cloth and leave it to rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until it has doubled.

Dust the work surface lightly with flour. Divide the dough in half or leave it whole and shape into ovals or rounds. Put the dough onto one or two lightly floured baking sheets, allowing space between each to allow for rising.

Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for 30-60 minutes, or until its risen again. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the bread in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until lightly golden. This will not be golden and crusty like a sourdough, but rather a much softer pinky/gold. Give the bottom a knock, it should sound hollow. Transfer to a rack to cool. Mangia!

Baking, Kitchen Wisdom, RecipesWGG