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Oct 10, 2023

Italian Pane Francese (Italian Baguettes)

This Pane Francese is the shorter and flatter northern Italian cousin of the French baguette. It still comes with a crispy chewy crust and a soft airy interior, but it is much easier to make. 

Italian Baguettes with olive oil and balsamic.

The shape is pretty rustic, almost like a cross between a French baguette and a ciabatta. Making the dough involves a long fermentation for extra flavor. 

According to the book, The Italian Baker by the late Carol Field, the tradition of Pane Francese was perfected in Milan by the master baker, Giancarlo Grignani, who researched centuries-old traditions for making this bread. His recipe involved sourdough. In this recipe, I used an overnight fermentation of the dough. 

Italian Baguettes on a cutting board.

I've added some whole wheat flour to try to represent the less refined flours of yester year, and then shaped the bread in the same way that I shaped durum stirato, by gently stretching the dough and twisting it right before baking to get the rustic shape. 

This dough, with the added whole wheat, was a little stiffer than the durum or all bread flour versions, but the final bread was incredibly delicious, especially warm and slathered in salted butter. Plus the interior was soft and airy. 

Italian Baguettes in a basket.

The added flavor from the whole wheat (20 percent of the total flour in the bread) is wonderful but not overpowering. You could experiment and reduce the amount of whole wheat to ten percent or even less to see how it affects the flavor of the bread and the workability of the dough. 

To Make This Pane Francese:

In a large bowl, combine the flours, yeast, and salt. Next, add the water and stir everything together until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours. The dough will have risen substantially and will be filled with bubbles. 

Once you are ready to shape the dough, turn it out onto a floured work surface, divide it in half, and then fold each piece into a rolled rectangle. Once the two pieces of dough have risen, stretch them out, twist them, and place them on a piece of parchment on a pizza peel and transfer them to a hot baking stone in the oven. 

To capture steam, top them with an upside down foil roasting pan or and upside down large roasting pan. Bake them for 20 minutes with the lid on and then about 15 minutes without the lid. 

Italian Baguettes cut in half on a cutting board.

This bread is fabulous for breakfast toasted with fried eggs. It is also great for Italian-style sandwiches, filled with veggies, meats, and cheeses. 

You can also cut this bread into sections and serve it with soups, stews, pasta, or hearty salads. I love it dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar with cocktails before dinner. 

Italian Pane Francese (Italian Baguettes) with olive oil and vinegar.

This bread is best the day that it is baked. To maintain freshness, you can freeze leftovers for later. You can also use leftovers for making toast, garlic bread, or cheese bread. 

This bread is crusty, chewy, and so easy to make. I hope you'll try it. 

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Italian Pane Francese (Italian Baguettes) in a basket on a cutting board.

Italian Pane Francese (Italian Baguettes)

Italian Pane Francese (Italian Baguettes)
Yield: 10 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 30 MinInactive time: 14 HourTotal time: 14 H & 45 M
This Pane Francese is the shorter and flatter northern Italian cousin of the French baguette. It still comes with a crispy chewy crust and a soft airy interior.


  • 320 grams (2 and 2/3 cups) bread flour
  • 80 grams (1/3 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 8 grams (1 1/4 teaspoons) table salt
  • 300 grams (1 1/2 cups) water


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, yeast, and salt.
  2. Add the water and mix everything by hand until combined.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours.
  4. Scrape the dough out onto a heavily floured surface.
  5. Gently pull the dough into the shape of a 10 inch by 12 inch rectangle and then fold it over itself from each long side as if you were creating an envelope. With your hands, gently roll the dough out into a tube and then cut the dough in half, width-wise.
  6. Place the dough pieces, seam side down, on a well-floured sheet pan sized piece of parchment and cover with oiled plastic wrap.
  7. Place a baking stone on the center rack of your oven and place whatever cover you will be using on top of it or set up your oven for steam. I used an upside down roasting pan about the size of the baking stone. If you dont have a baking stone, you can use a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
  8. When the dough has about doubled (30-45 minutes), pick up each piece, twist it, and stretch it out to about 11 to 13 inches.
  9. Remove the hot cover from the stone, and, using a peel or the back of a baking sheet. drag the parchment with the dough onto the stone and place the hot cover over the loaves.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes, until golden brown with an interior temperature of 200 to 210 degrees F.
  11. Cool on a wire rack.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

1 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

0 g

Carbs (grams)

29 g

Fiber (grams)

2 g

Net carbs

27 g

Sugar (grams)

0 g

Protein (grams)

5 g

Cholesterol (grams)

0 mg
baguette, pane francese
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  1. Love your bakes and this in another addition to it Karen. Awesome texture.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks. I'm hoping the Italian bread police don't hunt me down, lol.


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