Pane all’Olio (Italian Olive Oil Bread)

Silvia is back in her Cucina! After two and a half months away in Melbourne threading the boards at the Malthouse theatre, playing the role of a dilemma-stricken bride who runs off with her ex-boyfriend on her wedding day, I feel an utter sense of well-being walking around in my kitchen, re-familiarizing with my tools, pots and pans, as I watch my little boys play in the front verandah…Ah the bliss of domestic life! To say that I have missed my kitchen is an understatement. My urge to be dusted in flour is not merely physical. I need that sense of inner peace that the knowledge that a dough of some sort is proving in my house will bring. Acting is a wonderful way to express creativity, but it can at times take a toll on your soul, especially when the role you play every night is so tormented. My therapy is baking. Bread, needles to say.                                                                                        I came across this wonderful recipe in one of my favorite bread books and I am so happy to be sharing this with you. I hope, no matter what you are going through in your lives, the act of baking bread may bring serenity and balance. And a house that smells like an Italian bakery.



Recipe adapted from Jan Hedh’s Artisan Breads

Makes 2 medium loaves or 3 smaller ones

For the Ferment (biga)

1/2 teaspoon of dry yeast

2 cups of lukewarm water

1 cup of durum wheat flour

3 cups of stone ground wheat flour (baker’s flour)

Dissolve the yeast in the water, add the flour and work it with a wooden spoon until you have  thick batter. Cover it with plastic film and rest in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for 2 1/2 -3 hours, or until bubbly and risen.

For the Dough

The risen ferment, at room temperature (take out of the fridge 1 hour before kneading if you rested it overnight)

2 teaspoons of dry yeast

2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

1 egg

2-3/4 cups of strong stone gourd flour (baker’s flour) plus 3 or 4 tablespoons more if the enough is too sticky.

2 teaspoons of salt


1. Put the risen ferment in a large bowl, add the yeast and mix it in with a wooden spoon until combined.

2. Add the oil, egg and the flour and combine with a wooden spoon.

3. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead well for 5 minutes. If the dough feels to sticky , add a little flour. Bare in mid that this is supposed to be a soft dough, but should come away easily from your fingers.

4. Stretch the dough into a rectangle, add the salt and knead well for another 5 minutes or until shiny and smooth. Roll into a ball, place in a large , oiled container. Cover with a damp tea-towel and leave it to prove at room temperature for 1 hour. take the dough out of the container, knock it back, stretch it tint a rectangle, fold it into three and then shape back tint a ball. Place the dough back into the oiled container and leave to prove for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.


1. Place the dough onto a floured surface. Divide into 2 or 3 portions , according to the size of loves you are after. You can even divide into 6/8 and make individual dinner rolls.

2. Flatten each portion of dough with your hands or a rolling pin. Roll the dough onto itself to shape a crescent or a cigar.

3. Leave the dough to prove for 45/60 minutes onto an oven tray lined with baking paper. Bring your oven to 210 C, 410 F. Place an empty metal bowl in the oven to heat up.

4. Just before baking, score the breads to your liking.

5. Carefully slide the tray in the oven, fill the heated metal bowl with cold water to create steam, close the oven door and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped with your finger.

6. Cool on a rack at room temperature. Enjoy as it is or fill with your favorite cold meat and cheese for the ultimate Panino experience!

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15 Comments Add yours

  1. Silvia! I’ve missed you, and I had no idea that you’re an actress (stage), too!! that’s my other love, and finding time away to do it is a huge sacrifice…I just had to turn down a lead role in ‘Dracula’ b/c of a chance to cmopete in the World Food Championship in Las Vegas in November…it was hard, but the opportunity to compete for 30k in the sandwich category convinced me!! Love the bread…I make a version of this but not as great as yours I know! xo Ally

    1. Ally! So nice to hear from you!
      Yes, acting (stage and film) is my professional trade and I try to squeeze in a couple of jobs every year, to fit with family life and , now, food writing, but it can be hard a times. I was away from home for over 2 months, brought the baby with me, but had to leave my 5 year-old with his daddy so he could attend school…He came to visit a few times, but it was hard indeed! How funny that you were offered a role in Dracula…I played the Vampire in 2 movies. life is so bizarrely fascinating, isn’t it? Maybe that’s why we have clicked so easily, we have so much in common! Lots of love

  2. This bread looks absolutely authentic and delicious – just as it should. Nothing like really good, crusty bread right out of the oven. Thank you for the link.

    1. Thanks Jovina! Yes, nothing beats home-made bread…still warm from the oven..Heaven!

  3. Hi Silvia! Am I understanding this correctly?? First let it rise and then Knead the egg and oil into the dough? Thank you. I might try encorporating the egg first and then let rise? Have you tried it that way? Thanks. Hope all is well now that you have settled back into your homelife! Auguri!

    1. Yes, you basically make a pre-fermet, let it rise (in the fridge overnight ir at room temperature for a few hours) and then you add the rest of the ingredients. In tho sway the bread will have a moist , fluffy crumb and it will be light as a feather. Let me know how you go!

  4. Silvia, so glad you’re back at home. Yes, bread baking is my therapy. I always hand knead, the 10 minutes of mindless motion, rolling the dough back and forth just removes all tension from my day. This bread sounds wonderful, I’ll have to give it a try soon. I’ve never gone wrong with any of your recipes!

    1. Thank you so so much!

  5. Sunny says:

    This looks so delicious and just in time as I have been in the mood to make some bread! Thanks for sharing, love your blog! 🙂

  6. Renate Hendrickson says:

    Hi Silvia, the bread looks soooo good and I love to make it but I am a bit confused with the flour: What is Durum flour? Is stone ground wheat flour regular wheat flour? Thanks for sharing all of your great recipes.

    1. Durum wheat is also known as semolina. Hope this helps!

      1. Renate Hendrickson says:

        Thank you Silvia, learned something new. Now I can start making the bread and hopefully it will turn out as good as yours!!!!!
        Thank you for sharing your recipes with us.

      2. My pleasure entirely!

  7. Sarah Henzell says:

    I’ve only just discovered this recipe and have decided today is the day to give it a try (it’s raining outside). I’ve just made the biga and am reading through the rest of the recipe. I’m a little confused about the amount of bakers flour that needs to be added to make the dough. Where it says 2-3/4 cups does that mean 2 and 3/4 cups or 2/4-3/4 cups? Love your blog.

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