Panini Bread

We love this recipe. It yields an extremely light, air pocket-riddled loaf, wonderful for splitting lengthwise, to make a panini sandwich. Note that the dough is extremely slack (wet) and sticky; this consistency is what gives the bread its lovely "holey" texture.

40 mins
22 to 25 mins
21 hrs 55 mins
2 loaves
Panini Bread


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  1. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Mix the biga ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Let the biga rest overnight, covered, or for up to 15 hours.

  2. Place all of the dough ingredients, including the biga, into the bowl of your mixer, and beat it at medium speed (speed 4 on a KitchenAid), using the flat beater, for 3 minutes; the dough should have started to clear the sides of the bowl. If it hasn't, increase the speed of the mixer, and mix for an additional 2 minutes.

  3. Switch to the dough hook, and knead for an additional 3 to 4 minutes; the dough will be extremely soft.

  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and allow it to rise for 2 hours, deflating it once midway through the rising time.

  5. Transfer the dough to a well-oiled work surface. Lightly grease a half-sheet baking pan (18" x 13") or similar large pan, and your hands.

  6. Using a bench knife or your fingers, divide the dough in half. Handling the dough gently, stretch one piece into a log about 10" long, and place it crosswise on one half of the baking sheet. Flatten the log with your fingers until it's about 3" wide.

  7. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. Lightly cover the dough with heavily oiled plastic wrap, and allow it to rise for 2 hours; it'll become very puffy, and will jiggle when you shake the pan gently. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

  8. Bake the loaves for 22 to 25 minutes, or until they're golden brown.

  9. Turn off the oven, remove the panini loaves from the baking sheet, and return them to the oven, propping the oven door open a couple of inches with a folded-over potholder. Allow the loaves to cool completely in the oven; this will give them a very crisp crust. If desired, sift a dusting of flour on top of the cooled loaves.

Tips from our Bakers

  • You may also prepare this dough in a bread machine programmed for the dough cycle. Let the dough rise for 2 hours.
  • For easiest handling, keep your hands well oiled as you work with the dough.
  • Use more water in winter, or if you're in a dry climate; less in summer, or in humid weather. The goal is a very sticky dough, too sticky to knead by hand, but not so slack that it won't hold its shape when you plop it onto a pan. Start with a lesser amount of liquid, and add more if the dough doesn't seem sticky enough.