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Apr 11, 2021

Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Filled Bread (Pane Bianco)

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

Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Filled Bread close up

This bread, besides being pretty darn stunning, is soft, garlicky, cheesy, and tasty. It will kind of remind you of the flavors of pizza in a soft bread. 

This bread is delicious warm from the oven as well as at room temperature. It's soft and flavorful, and delicious dipped in hot tomato sauce or seasoned olive oil. 

Pane bianco slices

This is the winning recipe for the 2009 (the first ever) National Festival of Breads, a contest for American amateur bread bakers. It's also featured in King Arthur Baking

The loaf is stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, cheese, garlic, and basil. It's rolled up, cut open on top with scissors, and then formed into an "S."

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

Pane bianco dough

The dough looks like it's difficult to shape, but it's really pretty easy. 

How to shape pane bianco:

First, roll the dough out into a 22 inch by 8 inch rectangle and sprinkle it with drained sun dried tomatoes, chopped basil, and a mixture of cheeses tossed with chopped garlic. 

For the cheeses, I used a combination Gruyère, mozzarella, and provolone. I've also made the bread with just mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. You can also use a store-bought Italian blend shredded cheese. I just happened to have some small bits of provolone and Gruyère in the cheese drawer that I needed to use. 

Once you've sprinkled the filling over the dough, roll it up tightly into a long rope and lay it across a parchment lined baking sheet. Next, using kitchen shears, cut the rope lengthwise about 1 inch deep. 

Form the rope into an "S" keeping the cut side facing up. 

Pane bianco bread shaped before baking

While it may look complicated, it's really pretty easy. 

This bread is delicious warm or at room temperature. It's great served with a pasta dinner or as a snack dipped in warm pizza sauce or olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

You can even toast it with cheese for a tasty cheese on cheese snack.

Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Filled Bread (Pane Bianco) with sauce

Be sure to keep an eye on the loaf when it's in the oven so that you can tent it with foil when it is golden brown, about the 25 to 30 minute mark. 

The dough is super easy to work with. It was easy to roll out into the long rectangle, and I didn't even need to flour my work surface before rolling it out. 

Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Filled Bread (Pane Bianco) with basil

I first posted this recipe in April, 2013. The original recipe was for two loaves. I've revised the recipe to make one loaf and have added updated photos and a printable recipe card. 

Plus, I got to enjoy this bread again! 

This week the Sunday Funday group is featuring recipes for garlic lovers! Be sure to check out everyone's recipes featuring garlic. 

Sunday Funday Garlic Lovers' Recipes:

More recipes featuring garlic:

Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Filled Bread (Pane Bianco)

Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Filled Bread (Pane Bianco) Recipe

Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Filled Bread (Pane Bianco) Recipe
Yield: 24 servings (one loaf)
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
This tomato, basil, and garlic cheese bread, or pane bianco, is a wonderful soft, cheesy, and flavorful loaf.


For the Dough
  • 361 grams (3 cups) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 8 grams (1 1/4 teaspoons) salt
  • 1 large room temperature egg
  • 113 grams (1/2 cup) warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
  • 113 grams (1/2 cup) warm low fat milk (95 to 105 degrees F)
  • 35 grams (3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
For the Filling
  • 113 grams (1/4 of an 8 1/2 ounce jar/3/4 cup) sun dried sun dried tomatoes, drained, set on on paper towels, and then chopped.
  • 85 grams (3/4 cup) grated Italian cheese blend or grated cheeses of your choice. 
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 14 g (1/3 C) chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish


  1. Add all of the dough ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on medium low for about seven minutes. You can also knead by hand for about 10 minutes, until you have a smooth dough.
  2. 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.
  3. Line a half sheet pan with heavy duty parchment paper.
  4. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and, using a rolling pin, roll it out into a 22 inch by 8 inch rectangle.
  5. Toss the shredded cheese with the finely chopped garlic.
  6. Sprinkle the dough with the tomatoes, cheese and garlic mixture, and basil.
  7. Roll up the dough into a log, lengthwise, and seal. Place seam side down diagonally on the baking sheet.
  8. Using sharp kitchen shears, starting 1/2" from one end, cut the log lengthwise down the middle about 1" deep, to within 1/2" of the other end.
  9. Making sure that the cut side remains facing up, shape the loaf into an "S," tucking the ends under the dough. It should eventually look sort of like a figure 8. 
  10. Lightly spray the loaf with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  11. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with a rack in the lower third of the oven.
  12. Allow the loaf to double in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.
  13. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, checking for color at about the 20 minute mark.  Tent with foil once it is fully browned.
  14. Move the loaf to a cooling rack and let cool. 
  15. Serve warm or at room temperature. 



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cheese, Pane Bianco
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Would you like to comment?

  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

  8. Your breads are always SO beautiful and, I know, delicious. One of these days I'll get to meet you in real life and taste your lovely creations, right?

  9. What an impressive and I"m sure delicious loaf of bread.

  10. Oh my goodness - how stunning is this loaf??! What a fabulous meal all by itself!

  11. this ia a show stopper, Karen. wow wow wow - is all I can say.. even my husband who's more into cheese and not much into breads would love it...

  12. That's a beautiful and flavor filled bread.

  13. Such a beauty...I am just looking at the pics again and again, and wondering If I can get a slice of it. A perfect savoury bread bursting with flavours with a cuppa.

  14. What a beautiful bake Karen, simply stunning. A variety of cheeses, with sun-dried tomatoes and garlic.. simply mouth watering. Love how you shaped pane bianco into an S shape.

  15. This is gorgeous and, like you said, so flavorful. I wish I had a slice right now!

  16. Love all the flavors in this bread! It would go greaat with pasta.

  17. I can see why it won! It's definitely a winner in my book. All of that baked cheese with the other ingredients is like a culinary masterpiece!

  18. This bread is just so pretty and delicious, too!

  19. I feel like you have outdone yourself with this one...but I think I say that about each bread you make. This one is just so pretty, and sounds like it tastes amazing!


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