I went out and bought the “special” ingredients needed for this Casatiello, an Italian “cousin” of the eggy French brioche and the fifth recipe in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge. The 200 gram of Calabrese salami and the 250 gram chunk of Provolone cheese cost $12. Yipes, I thought, this had better be damn good bread.
Just as a test I had a few crackers with the cheese and salami, you know, just to make sure this was a good combo. Good thing we only had a couple crackers left or there would have been nothing remaining of the salami and cheese for the bread. Also gave a test cracker to my other half. Turns out spicy deli meats are not a favourite at all; now I know the salami’s all mine. Muahahaha! And so is the bread. OK, I cut the recipe in half then: one loaf should be plenty for lil ol’ me. Darn, now I’ll have all this spare salami and cheese. What ever shall I do?
I immediately put “Crackers” on the shopping list.
OK, let’s get this show on the road and see what we end up with since we know the “featured ingredients” are awesome.
We begin with the sponge: Flour, yeast and water. This sits for an hour. While that’s doing it’s spongy thing, I set up the Mise en Place:
I also get the meat crispied up, reserving the drippings.
Once the sponge has risen, beat in the egg and add it all to the flour, sugar and salt.
We mix until everything gets wet, cover (not shown) with our handy shower cap and let this stand for ten minutes. Although the book doesn’t specify it by name, this is a short “autolyse”.
We next add the reserved drippings and butter (less about 1 tablespoon to account for the added drippings).
The dough is mixed at low speed for about six more minutes until smooth. By hand, you’d do this step by kneading on the counter. Once smooth, we add the crispy salami and work it in until incorporated somewhat evenly then do the same with the cheese.
We then transfer this mixture to a greased bowl, cover and let rise for about 90 minutes or until at least 1 1/2 times it’s original size.
We now transfer our dough to a cake pan (options; bread pan, greased paper bag, pannetone molds). I happen to have cake pans so into a thick 8″ straight side pan.
Proof until the dough “crests the pan”, about 60-90 minutes.
Here’s our loaf at 90 minutes plus another 10…
Hmmm. Not exactly overflowing. I hope there’s lots of oven spring, as others said they had.
OK, so into the 350ºF preheated oven it goes.
I’m suddenly a little leary about this loaf’s future. But let’s leave it to the bread gods.
And here it is at the 20 minute mark ready for it’s mid-bake spin. Rather pale. But there’s still another 20 – 30 minutes to go. Again, the lack of height is worrying.
“Bing!” goes the timer and there we are. OK, now I’m pretty darn sure this loaf was actually BIGGER when I put it IN the oven. A Seinfeld routine about shrinkage runs through my mind for some reason.
I’m thinking this is not right. I mean, it doesn’t look horrible but it certainly isn’t close to the tall loaf pictured in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. At all. Something somewhere went terribly astray. So it sits to cool.
Now in spite of the lackluster proofing or oven spring, this bread still ended up getting eaten. I’m sure it would have been a little lighter had it expanded as it should but taste-wise it was certainly intense and packed a flavour punch. I decided to slice it thin and think of it as “really zippy flavoured melba toast”.
Verdict: “Interesting”. Since it’s not a popular bread (because of the salami) and I’d be the only one eating it, I’ll probably keep this to a “Done it, it was nice” list but not likely to rush out to repeat. I’ll gladly pick up more salami and provolone but keep it as cracker toppings since that’s a lot simpler to produce and I don’t have a full oaf to go through on my own. Maybe for a party.
Coming up next: Challah and Ciabatta.
Hrmmm… Since I’m on my own for the next week or two, (Punkin is off to the old homestead for the parent’s 50th anniversary) and it’s the third egg bread in a row (and I’ve not had great success on these) and I’ve made the Ciabatta before, I’m going to pass on these next recipes for The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge. What I’m going to do instead is fire up a loaf or two of Vermont Sourdough which I haven’t done in a while. My starter, Audrey2, is starting to feel neglected. Now THAT I’ll likely have no problem eating all on my own.
We’ll get back in the running with Cinnamon Buns, a sure crowd pleaser.