Sourdough Panmarino. Memory and Beatrice d’Este

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.

Ophelia, Act 4, Scene 5, Hamlet.

The most exquisite and evocative bread of my sourdough repertoire is Panmarino. Now that’s a big call I know but it might have something to do with the fragrant mixture of Rosemary and Salt, the soft comforting texture of the bread, or the dramatic diamond encrusted star on its baked dome. I have only recently converted this yeasted bread to sourdough, and must make sure that I don’t make it too often. I prefer to think of it as a festive bread, perhaps best associated with reminiscence and memory. It would be a lovely bread to make for the anniversary of a loved one. Pray you, love, remember me.

This bread was first popularised by Carol Field in her classic work, The Italian Baker.¹ According to Field, it was invented by a baker named Luciano Pancalde, the baker with the perfect hot bread name, who created this bread as the encapsulation of one he had read about in a biography of the d’Este family of Ferrara. I really like this idea on many levels. That he read about a Renaissance bread, visualised it, then recreated it makes it rather special but that this bread was eaten at the courts of my favourite historic family makes it even better. I plan to come back in my next life as Beatrice d’Este. In the meantime, I’m enjoying a virtual memory. Rosemary does that. It’s the time traveling herb.

Beatrice was here. Castello Sforzesco. Vigevano.

The recipe listed by Field is for a yeasted bread: it is easy to make, and it tastes good too. But to my mind, the bread made in the Renaissance courts of the d’Este family would have been made with something like a biga or lievito madre. Using my standard sourdough starter, a very fine traditional Panmarino can be made. Some of the recipes I have drawn on suggest a long gestation time of 4 days. I’m happy with a 24 hour time frame, given a ready starter, one that has been refreshed over a day or so. I also like to add a little wholemeal to mine, in keeping with a loaf of the past.

Slices and keeps very well, if it lasts.

Sourdough Panmarino, un pane per la bella Beatrice d’Este.

I have simplified this bread for speed and ease of making. I’ve played with the proportions of starter and am happy with the results so far. If you would like to follow one source of this recipe, see here. Before making this recipe, refresh your starter three times over a day or so, then start the process in the morning.

  • 150 g bubbly active sourdough starter
  • 150 g water filtered or tank, at least not chlorinated
  • 150 g whole milk
  • 500g baker’s white flour or a mixture of baker’s white flour, ie 400g and wholemeal plain flour 100g
  • 5 g diastatic malt 5g  ( optional)
  • 10 g sea salt
  • 40 g olive oil
  • 20 g or less chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt flakes such as Maldon for the shaped loaf


Weigh the the starter, water and milk then add to a large mixing bowl. Add the flour (s) and malt and mix roughly with your hands. It will look like a shaggy pile. Cover with a shower cap or plastic film and leave for 20 minutes or so.

Mix the chopped rosemary, olive oil and salt and work this through the dough with your hands. You will feel the gluten begin to develop. Cover with cap. Leave the covered dough at room temperature.

Do some stretch and folds every 20- 30 minutes, inside the bowl at least three times. You will feel the dough become smoother each time. Now leave the dough on the bench, covered, for 8 hours. It should be well risen by this time.

Place the covered bowl into the fridge for an overnight rest, coinciding with a rest of your own.

In the morning remove the dough from the fridge, have a peep at it, then let it come to room temperature, again still covered.

Using a bread scraper, place the dough onto a large silicon mat or good bench top, adding a small amount of fine semolina to the work surface. Stretch and fold the loaves a few times again, then shape the dough into a nice boule shape. Let this sit for 30 minutes or so, then place the boule into a round shaped and dusted banneton. Cover for 30 minutes to an hour. It will rise a little more.

Meanwhile preheat your oven to 225c FF. Turn the bread out onto a sheet of parchment paper, then lift the paper with the dough and place inside an enamel roaster/baking tin. Using a lame with a sharp blade, slash a star shape on top of the loaf and sprinkle generously with salt flakes. Cover with the lid of the roaster and place in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and continue baking for a further 20 minutes.

Remove the bread to a wire rack and let it cool completely before slicing.

Panmarino, star burst greater on the sourdough version. Better crust.
Yeasted version.

Thanks Maree for alerting me to the sourdough version of this bread.

Waiting for Beatrice d’Este, Vigevano

‘Then, when a memory reappears in consciousness, it produces on us the effect of a ghost whose mysterious apparition must be explained by special causes.’  Henri Bergson. Of the Survival of Images. Memory and Mind. 

Heaven and earth!/ Must I remember. Hamlet, Shakespeare

30 thoughts on “Sourdough Panmarino. Memory and Beatrice d’Este”

  1. After following the discussion between you and Maree on FB I’ve waiting to see what you did with Field’s recipe. I’m hoping your changes are the key to converting all her bread recipes to sourdough. I love the flavour of rosemary and fortunately the garden warriors have visited and converted a whole bunch of local nature strips to herb gardens. I’ve given up growing herbs, they seem to bring ants to my potted garden…..

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I hope the rosemary survives out there on the nature strips. I always do a raid of nature strip rosemary wherever I am. I see it, I steal it. I must admit to having a deep love for rosemary so was keen to convert this bread. A savoury bread that seems to last well too.
      Yes, good idea, might now have the confidence to work on Field’s other nice breads.


  2. Happy Mother’s Day to Mothers of children, cooking, kitchens, husbands and partners, love, spirit, history and sharing.
    What a triumph! I made and baked this loaf – gave it the overnight gestation period and it’s been out of the oven for 10 mins. I was able to source rosemary from a local garden plus bought Maldon salt. As for the soft-cheese-making frenzy; I have 10 different lots all ready to share with my B&B guests this afternoon on the decking with the Panmarino loaf and a sip or two of wine. It’s 29oC today so a sun-downer will be a pleasant and early-evening soiree to behold.

    I am going to gloat unashamedly and sing Francesca’s praises without apologies for using this post. As a result or her and Mr T’s recent stay will us in Far North Qld. I have learnt to use the sourdough starter for numerous goodies, wraps, pita bread, donuts, Anzacs, scones, muffins etc. let alone the home-made dairy products, yoghurt, cheeses, butter etc. This is saving me 80% on my B&B guests food expenditure. However, as many of the recipes call for sugar, I’ve experimented with pure local honeys. This has also translated into jams, chutneys and pickles. There is a glut of tropical citrus and passionfruit and I collected the windfall of 20 kgs. from a nearby farm a few days ago. The most sweetest and juiciest fruit but the best is the tangelo. And I’m glad to say that it has all been made into sugar-free conserves, jams and jellies.

    The guests are now wanting to stay longer so that they can have mini-workshops to learn about the kitchen turnout. It is making enough money to purchase all the requisite ingredients, jars and other necessary accoutrements. We have guests from all over the world and to think that the gift of sharing will be enjoyed internationally all thanks to Francesca and her love of giving. A special Happy Mothers Day to you.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I think many people are truly, literally, starving for real food. How wonderful that you can add an element of that to what sounds like an already wonderful experience. Who knows whose life you will touch and change, as has happened to each of us.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This loaf looks very delicious – as luck would have it I’m due to bake some bread so i think this will have to get a whirl. I love the connection between food and memories, how food can connect us to a place or experience. thanks for sharing.


  4. Absolutely ripper bake! One of my favourite breads and I love how you’ve included the history and romance into the story telling. I believe we are booked into Utcheecreek B&B for a couple of nights later in the year too.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Ha ha, booked into Tropical Bliss! I don’t like knowing too much about where I’m going on hols, I’d sooner be surprised. I just sent Francescas post saying it looked nice to my husband and he’s done the rest.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. We love Italian rosemary bread and make it often when having BBQ for friends. But, I never thought of making it with sourdough. Biga, yes but not sourdough. Brilliant, I can’t wait to give this a try.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As we always have the sourdough starter ready, it seemed like the next step. A better crust and crumb followed. Nice for a BBQ Ron- must remember that.


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