I was in Panera BreadÂ this weekend getting my favorite soup & sandwich combo, broccoli & cheese soup with their tasty turkey artichoke panini on focaccia bread.Â Yummm.Â As I was enjoying my scrumptious Easter weekend meal with some pals, I began to wonder about the history of the chain cafe.Â So, this Monday morning I thought we’d explore it together.
Panera Bread is a chain of bakery cafe restaurants popular across the US.Â Panera specializes in artisan breads, soups, sandwiches, desserts and happy taste buds.Â The word ‘panera’ literally translates to ‘bread time’ in Latin which makes the name quite suitable.
The legacy of Panera began in 1981 in Richmond Heights, Missouri as the Au Bon Pain Company founded by Ron Shaich & Louis Kane.Â The company prospered around the east coast of the US and internationally throughout the 1980s and 1990s.Â In 1993, Au Bon Pain Co. purchased the Saint Louis Bread Company, a chain of 20 bakery cafes in the St. Louis area which helped the then Au Bon Pain Co. to prosper and gain respect as a bakery cafe.Â
In 1997, Au Bon Pain Co. was renamed Panera Bread which now operates or franchises over 850 cafes in 36 states and 17 manufacturing plants to support the cafes.Â Panera has been recognized by Business Week as being one of their “100 Hot Growth Companies”.Â Panera is recognized by myself as being one of my “100 Yummy Food Places”.Â
And now on to the Panera Bread Kalmata Olive Bread Recipe.
Ingredients for the starter:
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons fresh yeast
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
Ingredients For the Dough:
- 2/3 cup warm water
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 4 teaspoons fresh yeast
- 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon vegetable shortening
- 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups kalamata olives, pitted
To create the starter, combine the water and yeast in a medium mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve the yeast fully. Add the flour to the bowl and stir until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Cover with a cloth and ferment the starter at room temperature for 30 minutes.
For the dough, combine the water, honey and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir to dissolve the yeast fully. Add the shortening, flour, salt, starter and olives. Mix on low speed until the dough is fully developed. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl. Divide the dough into 2 pieces weighing about 22 ounces each. Set aside any remaining dough and freeze for future use. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball. Place the dough on the counter or in a proofing basket and cover with a warm, damp cloth to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Form the dough into loaves and place them on the counter or in a proofing basket. Cover the loaves with a warm, damp cloth and proof at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Score the loaves with a sharp knife, spray with water, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crusts are a deep golden brown and the middle of the loaves is 190-200 degrees.
Remove the bread from the oven and place it on the cooling rack for 30 minutes. If the bread was baked in loaf pans, remove the bread from the pans before cooling.
Now you’re ready to enjoy the wonderful wonders ofÂ Panera Bread at home.
It’s almost time for dessert, look out forÂ ‘The Moistest Chocolate Cake This Side of Heaven Recipe’ post.Â