Apr 22, 2013

Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Filled Bread

This tomato, basil, and garlic cheese bread, or pane bianco, is a wonderful soft, cheesy, and flavorful loaf. 

Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Filled Bread www.karenskitchenstories.com

This is the winning recipe for the 2009 (the first ever) National Festival of Breads, a contest for American amateur bread bakers. The loaf is stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, cheese, and basil. It's seasoned with garlic powder, and rolled up, cut open on top with scissors, and then formed into an "S." 

Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Filled Bread www.karenskitchenstories.com

I had a little issue with that sequence with my first loaf, which, after cutting, flopped open and resisted shaping. On the second loaf (in the top photo), I shaped the "S" first, and then sliced the top open with a thin sharp paring knife that I usually use to slash bread dough. The dough held together better and was easier to move to the baking sheet.

Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Filled Bread www.karenskitchenstories.com

Both of the loaves had amazing oven spring. The one on the left was taller, and had swirls of the filling throughout, while the loaf on the right was flatter (about 2 to 3 inches high) and most of the filling ended up on top (with that awesome burnt pizza cheese goodness).

The bread itself is soft, faintly sweet, and, if I had to find a comparison, somewhat challah like.

I almost had a "fail" here....  when I first mixed the dough, I forgot to add the oil.... 1/3 C of olive oil. I was four minutes into kneading the dough in my stand mixer when I figured it out. I dumped in the oil and all I heard was slosh, slosh, slosh. There was no way this oil was going to be incorporated into this dough.

I took the oily glob of dough out of the mixer, switched to the paddle attachment, and began re-adding tablespoons of the dough every few seconds or so. Once about half of the dough was added back in, I switched back to the dough hook, and continued adding tablespoons of the dough back in. Fortunately this worked. Yay. We have dough. (This is a technique that Esther McManus demonstrated on the Baking with Julia PBS series to make sure the croissant dough is fully mixed.)

This is another reason why I love baking bread. You can punt.

Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Filled Bread www.karenskitchenstories.com

Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies chose this recipe for the monthly Bread Baking Babes event. Visit her post for links to all of the other babes' takes on this month's recipe. There are some great step-by-step photos on the various posts, as well as different variations of the recipe. I am participating as a Bread Baking Buddy.

Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Filled Bread

This recipe has been adapted from King Arthur Flour. Yields two loaves


1/2 C warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
1/4 C sugar
4 tsp instant yeast
1 C warm low fat milk (95 to 105 degrees F) 
1/3 C olive oil
2 large room temperature eggs
2 tsp salt
723 g bread flour
1 8 1/2 ounce jar sun dried sun dried tomatoes, drained, set on on paper towels, and then chopped. 
3/4 tsp garlic powder (I would recommend using fresh roasted garlic, but I used the garlic powder for this bread)
 6 ounces grated cheese (I used a blend of mozzarella, smoked provolone, and parmesan)
14 g (2/3 C) chopped fresh basil


  • Add the water, sugar, yeast, milk, oil, eggs, salt, and flour to the bowl of a stand mixer. 
  • Stir with a dough whisk or large spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.
  • Knead the dough in a stand mixer for about seven minutes.
  • Place the dough into a lightly oiled dough rising bucket or bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour. 
  • Line two quarter sheet pans (or one half sheet pan) with heavy duty parchment paper. 
  • Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and divide it in half. 
  • Roll each piece of dough out into a 22 inch by 8 inch rectangle and sprinkle each with half of the tomatoes, garlic powder, cheese, and basil. 
  • Roll up the dough into a log, lengthwise, and seal. Place seam side down on the baking sheet and form into an "S," tucking the ends under. 
  • Using a sharp paring knife, slice along the "S" about one inch deep to expose the fillings. 
  • Spray the loaves with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. 
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with a rack in the lower third of the oven. 
  • Allow the loaves to double in size, about 45 to 60 minutes. 
  • Place both pans in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. 
  • Rotate the loaves and bake bake for another 20 to 25 minutes. Watch the oven and tent the loaves with foil when they are fully browned. 
  • Move the loaves to cooling racks when they are done. 
  • Wrap any leftovers. 
Buon gusto!


  1. This looks like a flavorful and pretty bread!

  2. This looks amazing! And your photos are gorgeous! A house just went up for sale across the street - are you looking? Ha ha ha.

  3. Punt, you say ;-) I say dough is a lot more forgiving than I thought when I first started baking. Knowing some tricks helps just a bundle.
    You got a very gorgeous loaf. Thanks for baking with us!

    1. Thank you so much. This is what I love about baking bread.

  4. The ability to punt is the great thing about bread making, isn't it. More and more, I've found that when yeast flour and water are involved, the mixture wants to be bread.

    I love the shape you got with the bread that you cut after forming into an S. And yes, isn't the oven spring amazing on this?

    Many thanks for baking with us.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth. Totally agree about bread making. The oven spring was amazing.

  5. Beautiful! I enjoyed reading about how you added the oil into the already formed dough. Well done!
    Renee - Kudos Kitchen

  6. this is so goooooooooooood. thanks for sharing.

  7. I made the original and I just made a variation I stuffed with cheddar cheese, bacon bits, and scrambled eggs. Breakfast Bread! Delicious


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