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), 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). I will also be sharing his recipe for Panini All’Olio (Italian Olive Oil Rolls) following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Interlink Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Gennaro Contaldo is an acclaimed chef and TV personality who 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.
Gennaro is also the author of many other books including Passione (here is my review with a recipe for Ndundari con Salsa di Pomodoro e Basilico), Gennaro’s Italian Year, Gennaro’s Italian Home Cooking, Gennaro’s Fast Cook Italian (here is my review with a recipe for Carbonara di Salmone Affumicato), and Gennaro’s Pasta Perfecto (here is my review with a recipe for Pappardelle con Ragu di Funghi Misti).
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.
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.
I especially 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 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.
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.
Panini All’Olio (Italian Olive Oil Rolls)
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. 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.
Panetteria 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 (Italian Olive Oil Rolls) Recipe
Excerpt from Panetteria
Panini All'Olio (Italian Olive Oil Rolls)
- 2/3 ounce (18 grams) fresh yeast or 3 teaspoons (1/3 ounce, 9 grams) active dry yeast)
- 1 cup (250 milliliters) lukewarm water 105-115˚ F
- 1/4 cup scant (50 milliliters) olive oil
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 4 cups (1 pound 2 ounces, 500 grams) white bread flour sifted, divided
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Line a large flat baking tray with parchment paper.
- Combine the yeast with the lukewarm water and olive oil. Stir in the egg yolk, sugar, and half of the flour. Add the salt, then the remaining flour and mix well to make a dough.
- Turn out onto a work surface and knead for about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave to rest in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
- Divide the dough into about 16 pieces, each about 1 3/4 ounce (50 grams), then shape into round or long rolls or whatever shape you prefer.
- Place on the prepared baking tray, cover with a cloth, and leave to rest in a warm place for a further 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425˚F (220˚C).
- Bake the rolls in the oven for about 15 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before enjoying.