Pane di Como Antico
Pane di Como Antico

This bread needs a biga – a starter – so plan accordingly!


adapted from The Italian Baker by Carol Field


  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 1/4 cup water (room temperature)
  • 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Stir the yeast into the warm water and let stand until creamy – about 10 minutes.  Stir in the remaining water and then the flour, one cup at a time.

Mix with the paddle attachment on the mixer at the lowest speed about 2 minutes.

Remove to a slightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise at cool room temperature for 6 to 24 hours.  The starter will triple in volume and still be wet and sticky when ready.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


  • 3/4 c biga
  • 3/4 cup water; At Room Temperature
  • 1/4 cup rye flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Cornmeal

Mix the starter and water with the paddle in a large mixer bowl. Mix in the flours and salt.  Switch to the dough hook and knead until softy and elastic, about 4 minutes. Finish kneading by hand on a lightly floured surface, sprinkling with additional flour, until smooth but still soft.

First Rise:

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it has numerous bubbles and blisters under the skin.

Shaping and Second Rise:

Divide the dough in half on a lightly floured surface without kneading it. Shape into a round loaf. Let it relax under a cloth for 20 minutes. Line baking sheet or peel with parchment paper and flour the paper generously. Roll ball into a fat cylinder and place seam side down on the paper. Dimple the loaf all over with your fingertips or knuckles, as for focaccia, to keep the dough from springing up. The dough should feel delicate but extremely springy.

Cover the loaf and let rise until doubled, with many visible air bubbles, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.


Thirty minutes before baking, heat the oven with a baking stone in it to 425° . Sprinkle the baking stone with cornmeal. Very gently invert the dough onto the stone. Gently remove the parchment paper. Immediately reduce the heat to 400° and bake until golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack.