Italian Pan Bread
For this recipe, you’ll need confit garlic oil and garlic butter on hand. To be fair, it’s only about a tablespoon of garlic oil, so you can get away with using plain olive oil, as it’s already required for part of the bread dough.
Commonly served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, Pan Bread tastes great on it’s own, lightly buttered or dipped full-out in creamy parm dip.
In this video, you’ll see me make a half-sized loaf with a reduced batch size. If you choose to reduce your batch size like I do, keep in mind you might need to adjust the cooking times slightly to get the best results. The dough may rise slightly faster with a reduced batch size, and it’s very important not to over-proof the dough.
To start, you’ll need to mix 3 cups All purpose flour with 3 cups high gluten flower, which is also known as bread flour. The higher protein in this flour is what’s responsible for the bread’s final texture; A springy, airy and lightly chewy bread texture. Of course, two tablespoons of instant yeast is will need to be added to the flour mix in order to form the base of the bread.
To add fragrance and aroma, add a dry spice mix consisting of 2 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon rosemary and Half a teaspoon thyme.
Then, add 1 teaspoon sugar & 1 and a half teaspoon fine ground salt.
It’s important to ensure the dry ingredients are well mixed before adding any liquids, to avoid clumps in the final dough, so take a moment to stir it up with whatever utensil is easiest to grab.
Once the dry ingredients are mixed, add 2 and a half cups warm water and one quarter cup olive oil into a small well made in the centre of the mix. Give it a stir with a spoon or your hands, which will eventually turn into a hands-on kneeding until a nice dough is formed. It should be firm and slightly tacky, but not moist and sticky. A little flour or water can be added as needed to get the right consistency, careful not to over-do it. It’s best to it a tablespoon at a time.
Kneed & Rise
Kneed the dough for about 5 minutes, aiming for a smooth and firm texture, and then set aside in a warm place to rest for 10 minutes as you prepare a large baking sheet with a lining of parchment paper. If you’re using a dark, non-stick coated pan, you can choose to lightly dust the pan with all purpose or semolina flour, to prevent sticking and give you an easier release from the pan.
After resting the dough for few minutes, you should see it start to grow in size. Take the dough and place on a lightly floured surface to be stretched out. A rolling pin with light pressure can be used to get an even thickness throughout the entire loaf, and once you have a sheet of dough the same size as your pan, transfer the dough into the pan so it can rise again.
Just before setting it to rise, take something like a wooden dowel or a chopstick, and poke small pokes into the dough, evenly spaced along the entire sheet. This is a process called ‘docking’ and helps the dough retain it’s shape in the oven, preventing any large bubbles under the crust.
Once again, set the dough aside for about 30 minutes until it’s roughly doubled in height while you preheat the oven to 450oF, setting the rack to the lowest Height available.
After the dough has once again doubled in size, lightly drizzle with confit garlic oil and evenly coat the top with a brush. Sprinkle coarse ground salt on the fresh oil right before baking, and place in oven for 15-20 minutes.
With a garlic-oil coating, the top of the bread will bake to form a crusty, shell with the lightly salted flavour.
The top should come out evenly poofy and golden toasted, and as the cookbook describes it, ‘hollow sounding’ when lightly tapped.
Let it cool just for a moment, until you can safely touch it with your bare hands, and immediately transfer it to a wire wrack to finish cooling. It’s important not to let it cool in the pan, as it still contains a lot of moisture in the form of steam. Leaving the loaf on the pan will cause the bottom to get soggy during cooling and so a wire rack keeps the air flowing around the bread, allowing it to cool without retaining unwanted moisture.
After cooling thoroughly, the bread can be placed back in the baking tray for storage prior to serving or slicing. It’s best to slice immediately before serving to keep the edges fresh, as well as lightly toasting the bread to restore a light crisp to the crust for dipping.
Making garlic bread is simple enough with a tub of confit garlic butter in the fridge.
Once the bread is completely cool, slice the crusts off any end pieces, and cut a few triangular wedges. Butter all sides of your slices with confit garlic butter and place on a hot grill or pan. Rorate every couple minutes, careful not to use too high of a heat setting that will burn too quick, and toast the bread to a golden brown colour.