This pane bianco is a no-knead artisan sourdough from Jim Lahey that’s made with flour, water, salt, and biga. It’s crispy on the outside and incredibly tender in the center. Here’s how to make it at home.
This simple, no-knead sourdough from Jim Lahey is a classic artisan bread that’s classically crisp on the outside and soul-sighingly soft inside. The recipe may appear long and daunting, but have no fear. The most difficult part of the whole process will be having enough patience, particularly when you’re waiting for it to cool.–Angie Zoobkoff
- Quick Glance
- Quick Glance
- 35 M
- 1 D, 11 H
- Makes one 9-inch (23-cm) round loaf
Special Equipment: A 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-quart (4.3- to 5.2-l) heavy pot with a tight fitting lid
IngredientsEmail Grocery List
- For the biga
- For the pane bianco
Recipe Testers Reviews
This recipe is not for a person that wishes to toss together a bread quickly. As sourdough breads go, this is quite simple, but no sourdough, even a "simple"one,will take less than 2/3 of a day at minimum. The time required is what actually makes a bread like this special. So good, in fact, that as good as it is slathered with any number of fancy jams or ordinary butter, it is amazing simply torn from the boule and devoured plain.
The hands on time is somewhere near 20 to 25 minutes but the actual time can be anywhere from 20 to nearly 30 hours.
I used 30 grams of biga and must confess it took me a couple of minutes to mix until there were no dry pockets of flour. My dough took nearly 20 hours in my coldish winter kitchen and I used floured parchment in place of the floured towel.
Honestly, until this basic method was presented a decade ago, it was unheard of for us to even consider baking great breads with a crispy crust and a light springy crumb at home. There have been several great books about sourdough in the last ten years, Tartine Bread, Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt, Yeast but one thing they ALL have in common they all owe a debt to the method used with THIS “simple no-knead white sourdough.”
If you’re used to making sourdough bread, this is a fine recipe and technique to tweak and make your own; if not, this is the perfect recipe to learn the method for creating the best breads in your own kitchen.
My final thought is that it is imperative that you wear good gloves or at the least sturdy oven mitts while handling your SCREAMING hot Dutch oven. I use grilling gloves that go halfway to my elbow.
My husband, who loves white sourdough bread, took one bite and gave the bread an "A+.” The bread has a nice crust and a soft chewy interior. The crumb is fairly small and there are not big holes in the bread.
I used 30 g of biga, which is the winter amount. The outside temperature when the biga was fermenting was warm (January thaw). My dough first sat for about 18 hours. It was ready earlier but I wasn't ready to bake. By the time I did use the dough, it had a nice aroma and bubbles underneath the surface. The information in the recipe about the readiness was helpful.
Later the dough rested for about 2 hours. I placed a clear plastic bowl over the dough so I could see the progress it was making.
My Dutch oven is actually only oven safe to 450 degrees so I turned the temperature down to 450 as soon as I placed the bread in the oven. I baked it for 20 minutes before removing the cover and then baked it for another 20 uncovered and it was fully done.
One thing. I used a bowl bigger than directed but then noticed that the top was drying out. I then transferred the dough to a smaller bowl.
I am new to bread baking and was very interested to try something with a starter as I love the flavor. I used the recommended biga and found it to be easy and it makes a lot more than I could even use.
I do find that the time needed for fermenting the biga and then the time needed to raise the dough makes this a bread that I won't bake often but perhaps if I got into a routine I could manage it more regularly.
As far as the recipe goes, it was very easy to do and the results are really good! The crust is crisp and the bread is chewy with an amazing texture. I have actually made it few times from the same biga and am quite pleased with my newfound bread baking skills!
On one of the tries, I rolled it in cornmeal and that yielded a lovely result as well. I also used the dough to make pizza dough and it was delicious.
This recipe, though time-consuming because of the rise times, is simple to make and delicious.
I allowed my biga to rest about 24 hours to get more of a sourdough-type bread and the taste was perfect.
Whether the bread is going to be eaten with a meal, to make a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, or with some cheese and wine, we felt this bread outdid any bread that we have available in a bakery nearby.
Don't let the total time scare you away from this recipe. The hands-on time is minimal and the results are totally worth the wait.