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How to make Authentic Italian Bread Recipes from Tuscany, Pane Toscano, Panini All'Olio.

Tony has been baking bread for many years and loves experimenting with bread from around the world. He enjoys passing on his experience.

Pane Toscano

Pane Toscano

Bread making at home

Hello and welcome to my hub kitchen, we have cold beer in the fridge and we are enjoying ourselves making bread.
My friend Fabio has just returned from his holiday in Milan with his uncle who owns a large confectioner's shop. So we have some new recipes to work with, and I hope you will join in and try the recipes with us to make your own bread.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

25 min

30 min

55 min

two loaves


  • 500gm Bread Flour, sifted
  • 300 ml water, 100 degrees F
  • tablespoon honey
  • 20 gm fresh yeast

Italy in a Song

Italian Bread.

Pane Toscano, is a traditional artisan style recipe and is slightly unusual in that it does not have salt amongst its ingredients. This may date back to a time when salt carried quite a high tax, so it is quite often eaten with salty food such as anchovies and olives.

It is another Italian bread that requires a little bit extra time so that you can make a sponge for it the day before. This strengthens the bread, improves the flavour, and helps improve the crumb texture.

pour the starter

pour the starter

Instructions for your starter

  1. Sift 175gm of your flour into a bowl.
  2. Add 100 ml of warm water
  3. stir into a thin batter like mix.
  4. cover the bowl with a damp teatowel and stand for 10 hours

Equipment you will need

Electric Mixer, will be a big help, even so I think there is nothing better than getting your hands in and mixing it by hand.

Various dishes and bowls. These are useful for softening butter or mixing the yeast.

Measuring jugs. I have three, one for the hot water, one for cold water, and one to mix the two in so that I can get the water to the right temperature of about 100°F.

Measuring spoons, tablespoon, teaspoon.

Fork, for whisking, knife for butter.

Baking Method

Making the sponge is pretty straightforward, I always have some on the go, because I use it all the time in my breadmaking which is about three times a week. The secret is to keep it warm so place your bowl near a radiator or in the airing cupboard this helps the natural process along.
So on baking day, if you are using fresh yeast crumble about 20 g into a bowl a teaspoon of sugar a tablespoon of flour, and enough lukewarm water to make a paste. Mix that into your starter sponge, and gradually add the rest of your flour and 150 mL of lukewarm milk.
If you are using dried yeast you need 7 g satcha sprinkled into your sponge starter.
Keep adding your flour until you have used it all up and you have formed a nice dough. At this point I cheat and put it in my electric mixer, but if you wish you can hand knead it for about 10 min.


Bread Art

Once the mixer has done its work, I still turn it out onto a floured worktop and hand knead for a few minutes.
Once again put the dough somewhere nice and warm, and leave it to rise until it has doubled in size.
Normally salt would regulate how much the dough rises, so keep your eye on it or it will rise too much and then collapse. Once the dough has risen, cut it into two, and then shape your loaves, and again leave them to rise.

Scroll to Continue

Time for some bread art, first make some quarter of an inch cuts across the bread this allows it to rise, and to make sure that the heat penetrates and cooks the bread.

Pre-heat your oven to GM7, 220°C / 425°F

Place in the middle of the oven, preferably on a baking stone, and cook for 30 mins.


What to eat with your loaf

As you can see this makes a wonderful loaf, or two loaves in this case. This bread is a perfect tear and share loaf, to eat with the whole family. I don't mean you to eat your whole family because grandmas can be quite tough and need a lot longer cooking time.

Just joking, you can serve this with a typical Mediterranean style meal. We typically would serve a salad fruits de mer, made up of octopus, squid, shrimp, surimi, and muscles, in seasoned olive oil with herbs such as oregano, parsley, basil, and thyme.

A few drink ideas

My favourite wines with this type of meal, would usually be an Italian red such as Chianti, or a French Corbieres from the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

Or what about some home made lemonade, made with tangy fruit.

A China rather than an Indian tea would fit nicely. Teas from china tend to be more floral in taste which goes well with seafood and oily dressings.


Panini All'Olio

When you go to an old-fashioned or artisan bakery in Italy you can expect not only to find a huge array of different types of bread, but also many different shapes. They seem to like the bread to be as good looking as it tastes.

This recipe makes some bread treats, which could be eaten along with any meal of the day. Bread in most European countries is more than something to make a sandwich out of, it is the meal itself, and the most important part of the meal. So they seldom run along to the supermarket to buy a tasteless ready sliced loaf, full of preservatives, flour improvers and artificial colouring. They buy their bread daily and eat it fresh whilst it is still bursting with flavour, the real taste of bread.


I’ve managed to find a couple of millers who produce flour from wheat sourced across Europe. So I can make bread with genuine French or Italian flour, which has slightly different characteristics to English wheat. For real strength, I use Canadian flours which are higher in gluten protein which traps carbon dioxide and gives the dough extra lift.

Bread in the UK is not allowed to be bleached anymore which was a process to make the flour whiter by adding various chemicals; I believe the additives are still allowed in the States although there is unbleached alternatives on the market.

500gms of strong white bread flour.

300ml of lukewarm water

Teaspoon of salt

One tablespoon of good quality olive oil.

20 gms of fresh yeast or one sachet of dry yeast.

Fresh Yeast

Add a little sugar to the yeast and 100ml of warm water, sprinkle a little flour into the bowl. Mix it all together and leave somewhere warm for ten minutes.

Meanwhile add salt to the flour and mix.

Once there is a good froth on the yeast add it to the flour and stir it in, now add the rest of your water and mix. Once all the flour is wet, add the oil and knead for ten minutes, or let the mixer take the strain and using a dough hook beat for six minutes.

Place the dough somewhere warm and cover with a damp cloth for twenty minutes.


How to make your shapes

Roll out your dough for some of the shapes.

Just use your imagination and create twists, plaits, coils, even animal and star shapes are great.

How to cook.

Grease a baking tin and spread out your shapes.

Brush with oil.

you could also sprinkle with sesame seeds, sunflour seeds, caraway seeds or combinations of seeds such as poppy and sesame seeds.

pre-heat your oven to GM6 400°F / 200°C

Before you put the baking trays in the oven, lightly spray your bread with water. This will make it crustier and stop the outside from cooking too quickly.

Ideas for eating your bread shapes.

Whenever I make these, the grandkids grab them if they are not watched.

They are good just on their own, but I usually make oil dips for them. Chop herbs, garlic, shallots and mix with olive oil. Add chilli flakes or peppers, or my favourite is smoked paprika and balsamic vinegar in oil.

We even grate cheese on them and melt under the grill.

Just dip and eat.

Daily Bread



Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on May 17, 2013:


thank you for your comments and personal insight.

I will have to remember to include ounce measurements, but I find metric so easy and more accurate, you only have to be able to count to ten for metric. Thank you for sharing my humour too which I think goes over a lot of heads, there are some intense people on hubs.



Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2013:

Hi Tony,

Like Au fait, I will have to transpose the measurements but from the looks of it, it will be worth the effort. I grew up eating nothing but homemade bread in my early years and there is nothing quite as delightful as homemade bread coming out of the oven. I used to make it when we lived in Wisconsin and it was cold much of the year. I even braided some of it. I should get back to making some once in a while. Love dipping a great piece of bread into herbed olive oil! Now you have me thinking of crusty breads, fine cheeses and rascal! I took definite note of how tough eating grandma would be. Crossing that off of my list. Ha! Up, useful and interesting votes.

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on March 21, 2013:

Au fait

sorry about the measurements, I find metric so much easier for baking and cooking because it is a little more precise than ounces.

Do give it a try using the sponge method, the difference in taste is really worth the effort.

thanks for your visit and comment



C E Clark from North Texas on March 20, 2013:

This looks really interesting and yummy! I like your detailed instructions and photos. I'll have to do a bit of transposing the measurements, but if it will turn out as good as yours looks it will be worth it!

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on July 11, 2012:

mama, you are welcome, I hope you have good luck.

regards Tony

Aloe Kim on July 11, 2012:

Oh you are so very helpful, thank you very much! I will try the sponge this time, and try to get my hands on some high gluten flour for next time. Thank you again ^_^

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on July 11, 2012:


8 is regarded as very lucky in some Eastern cultures, I was born on the 8th and always us it asmy lucky number in the lotto or whatever.

All purpose flour is the same as we call plain flour and should be okay. It does not have as strong gluten as bread flour, but if you make a sponge by adding flour water with a little sugar and leave it overnight, then it will strengthen quite a bit. Look at my friendship bread or ciabatta bread recipes; they explain using sponges. It will improve your bread for definite. If you can get hold of Canadian flour that is usually very strong gluten.

The gluten is important, because when the yeast gives off bubbles of CO2 they are trapped by the gluten which makes nice light bread filled with lovely bubbles.

It is a shame your sis can''t send you some flour, there are a number of good traditional flour mills down south.

nice to chat,



Aloe Kim on July 10, 2012:

oh my goodness no! ^_^ I have only 2 kids, for now. 8 is my favorite and has sentimental meaning to me.

I will most certainly let you know how it goes. I think I'll get around to it in a week or two. See ya then ;)

Although you wouldn't happen to know if I could use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour... I'm in the states and we don't have as many flours as you do. My sister lives in london and we've been struggling with our recipe swapping.

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on July 10, 2012:

Mama, I have to say amen to that.

thanks for you visit and comment, I hope you get back to me when you try the recipe as I would like your opinion.

Is the 8 in your handle for the amount of kids??

cheers Tony

Aloe Kim on July 09, 2012:

Well you can't get much closer to heaven than fresh baked bread ^_^ I'll be taking this hub for a test drive!

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on July 07, 2012:

Derdriu, many thanks for your comments and votes.

I appreciate the fact that you make such useful observations, which are most helpful. We have a great new collection of recipes that Fabio brought from his uncle's which also include recipes from the Piedmont region which tend to be more French than Italian in style, but really good food.

I hope that you are feeling better.

A doff of cap to the great Celtic Queen.


ttfn Tony

Derdriu on July 06, 2012:

Tony, It's always fun to read about the adventures of Fabio and Tony in the Mead family kitchen! In particular, I like the information about hand and mixer-kneading dough and the tips regarding unsalted bread. Additionally, it's great to learn how to make your recipe up as a loaf and as treats.

It's always convenient to be able to situate a creation within the wider context of what to serve it with, what to drink with it. So it's really helpful to have the alcoholic and non-alcoholic options of teas and wines as well as the cheeses/dips for the treats and the anchovies, olives and salads for the loaf.

Up + UFABI. Shared.

Respectfully, and with many thanks, Derdriu

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on June 05, 2012:


thank you for your comments and your kind visit.



Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on June 05, 2012:


Hi there thanks for votes and comments. thank you for taking the time to comment.

cheers Tony

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on June 05, 2012:


Hi there nice of you call by again, thanks for votes and comments.

cheers Tony

Derek James from South Wales on June 04, 2012:

Another tremendous hub, Tony. Voted up and useful.

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on June 04, 2012:

Hi Tony Great Italian Bread Recipes i can almost smell the bread baking.And all the information is so well written and easy to follow,well done !

Vote up and more !!!

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