Panetteria: Gennaro’s Italian Bakery, written by Gennaro Contaldo, features authentic sweet and savory Italian baking for both special occasions and everyday cooking. Highlights include Treccia Colorata (Braided Sweet Bread), Pizzette Margherita (Mini Pizzas with Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil), Danubio Salato (Savory Brioche), Panini al Latte (Milk Rolls), Focaccia con Aglio e Rosmarino (Focaccia with Garlic and Rosemary), and Strudel Di Mele (Apple Strudel).
Gennaro Contaldo is an acclaimed chef and TV personality. He grew up in Minori on the Amalfi coast and started working in restaurants at the age of eight. He was inspired by watching his mother make bread and visiting his uncle’s village bakery. He is the co-host of the series Two Greedy Italians with Antonio Carluccio and regularly appears on Saturday Kitchen. He is also the author of many other books including Passione, Gennaro’s Italian Year, Gennaro’s Italian Home Cooking, Gennaro’s Slow Cook Italian, and Gennaro’s Easy Italian.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Interlink Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
Chapters are divided based on the type of baked good: Flours, Yeast, Biga, Cooking Notes, Pane, Focaccia, Pizze, Torte Salate, Pan Dolci, Crostate, Biscotti, and Torte.
Gennaro begins by breaking down the basic ingredients with beginners in mind. He talks about the different types of flour and how to choose the best one, the differences between fresh and active-dry yeast, and how to create a Biga (starter dough). He also walks through the stages of bread making from mixing and kneading to rising, shaping, proofing, and baking. Along the way, he includes helpful tips and hints for success.
I particularly love the wide assortment of recipes, many that I had never come across before. There is a nice balance between sweet and savory. Pizza lovers will find a variety of toppings and ways to take their pizza to a new level. A few recipes are included to celebrate Christmas and Easter. While many of the recipes are yeast-based and require rise times, a few (particularly in the Torte, Biscotti, and Crostate sections) do not if you are wanting to ease your way into baking.
The titles are labeled in Italian and English. Every recipe includes a headnote with background information, tips, and variations. The measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. The photography is provided by Dan Jones with food styling by Emily Ezekiel. Many of the recipes include a beautifully styled photo, generally of the finished product. The stages of bread making and basic bread dough sections also include step-by-step photos of Gennaro shaping the dough.
This book is a great pick for those who enjoy baking and Italian cuisine. The recipes are well written and easy to follow for even novice bakers. Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store. A few that may require more searching include saffron, grana cotta, orange blossom water, semolina, golden raisins, broccolini, and polenta cornmeal.
Panini All’Olio are little fragrant rolls made with an olive oil-based dough. The thin and crisp crust gives way to a soft and fluffy interior. They are popular as a lunch or afternoon snack either plain or with cheese and cured meats. Evan and Claire were particularly fond of the cheese option.
I appreciated that Gennaro included how much to weigh each piece when dividing the dough to easily make them equal. I formed the balls of dough into round rolls, but longer cylinders and other shapes are also popular.
I also made the Calzone con Ricotta e Salame (Calzone with Ricotta and Salami), Pan Dolce Toscano, Crostata di Ricotta e Nutella, and Cantuccini con Pistacchio e Cioccolato Bianco (Cantuccini with Pistachio and White Chocolate).
The Calzone con Ricotta e Salame was easy to put together and a big hit with the family. The basic calzone dough is filled with ricotta, mozzarella, salami, Parmesan, and parsley before baking until golden. Other filling options include sausage and broccoli; escarole; and tomato, ham, and mozzarella.
Pan Dolce Toscano is a sweet bread from Tuscany. The yeast-based dough is sweetened with a little sugar and includes cinnamon, lemon zest, and orange zest for flavor. Gennaro recommends toasting the slices and serving them with jam for breakfast or as a teatime snack. They can also be dipped into Vin Santo or coffee. I think the leftovers would be perfect as the base for French Toast.
I had a little reading comprehension failure when it came to the Crostata di Ricotta e Nutella. I was preparing the tart late at night and accidentally mixed the nutella in with the ricotta mixture instead of spreading it in a thin layer over the tart dough and topping with the ricotta mixture. Even with the error, the tart was quite delicious. My daughter (2 years old) is generally good about watching me take photos without grabbing the food, but she had no interest in waiting for a slice this time. I took 19 photos and 15 included her hand. She obviously loved the tart too.
The Cantuccini con Pistacchio e Cioccolato Bianco would be particularly perfect as a accompaniment for teatime or even as a holiday gift. These cookies are known as cantucci in Tuscany and biscotti elsewhere. This batch is studded with toasted pistachios and white chocolate chips. Gennaro enjoys them with a mid-morning cappuccino.
Panini All’Olio (Italian Olive Oil Rolls)
Adapted from Panetteria
2/3 ounce/18 grams fresh yeast (or 3 teaspoons, 1/3 ounce, 9 grams active dry yeast)
Generous 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water, 105-115 degrees F
Scant 1/4 cup (50 ml) olive oil
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Generous 4 cups (1 pound 2 ounces, 500 grams) white bread flour, sifted, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the lukewarm water. If active dry yeast, allow to rest until frothy, 5-10 minutes. Add the olive oil and stir in the egg yolk, sugar, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix in the salt and remaining flour to create a dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead until smooth. If too crumbly, add a little more water. If too sticky, a little flour. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with plastic, and allow to rest in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment or lightly grease. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 16 equal pieces, about 1 3/4 ounces (50 grams) each. Shape each piece into a ball or long log. Place on the prepared baking sheet, cover with a towel, and allow to rise until puffed, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 C). Bake the rolls in the preheated oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. Best served within a day of baking.