So my second choice from last week is up, and it’s introducing a couple interesting aspects to the breadmaking stuff for me. A savory Italian variation of the Panettone (French brioche dessert with dried fruits and stuff inside), Casatiello blends in chunks of cheese and cured (usually) meat such as salami. A good melting cheese is preferred, provolone often being the standard, but I ran across an Italian Fontina which I just thought was perfect. As for the meat, I had to go based on price at Whole Foods, but found something at a decent price and quality; a log of decent looking ‘artisan’ Pepperoni. A section in the book mentioned it as a possibility; well, along with bacon, sausage, other salami, think even bologna… but I like my decision best, at least for now. I do ache to try some other fun combos in the future.
Well that’s the FIRST ‘interesting aspect,’ the second is the fact that it’s often baked inside a bag of some sort; furthermore, for stability purposes, that bag is then place inside a can. It can also be made in a loaf pan, but why do something so boring when we can explore new stuff! It took a bit of work to actually get the right things for me to set it up though; since I was doing this in one BIG loaf as directed, had to go and buy one of those big-ass tomato cans from Sam’s Club (so we now have a bunch of crushed tomato that has to be used in sauce and stew within the next couple of weeks). I also had to figure out a proper bag to use… it mentions those white or brown sandwich bags, but they’re usually quite small, couldn’t quite find the right store for one that was big and ‘flexible’ enough to take it in and fold the collar down.
Then I had an epiphany… of course! Why try finding another bag, or use a big paper shopping bag (which I’d probably have to cut to fit), when I have a perfectly sized bag right at my disposal, and already coated in a bread-friendly layer. That’s right, I emptied out and used my Bread Flour Bag. All I had to do was spray the inside thoroughly with olive oil and cut the top off to just above the dough after proofing (it didn’t really “collar” like I wanted it to, which you’ll see in the directions later), and there we go.
4 cups/18.25 oz Bread Flour
1 Tb/0.33 oz Dry Yeast
1 cup/8 oz Milk, Lukewarm
4 oz Salame, Pepperoni, Bacon, or other suitable Meat
6 oz Provolone or other tasty melty Cheese
1 tsp/0.25 oz Salt
1 Tb/0.5 oz Sugar
2 Large/3.3 oz Eggs, beaten
¾ cup/6 oz Butter, room temp
- Stir together ½ cup(2.25oz) of Flour and Yeast in bowl, mix in Milk to make a batter, cover with plastic and let ferment at room temp 1 hour.
- While this goes on, dice Meat and Cheese.
- Heat up sauté pan to medium heat, throwing in the meat to cook and render until slightly crispy. Move off heat, making sure NOT to throw any of the rendered fat.
- Stir together remaining flour with Salt and Sugar.
- Combine Eggs, Sponge, and Flour mix in stand mixer bowl, using the paddle attachment on low speed until it all combines into a coarse mass, adding a small amount of Milk if any loose flour to help gather together.
- Let rest 10 minutes for gluten to develop
- Divide butter into 4 sections, adding into the dough while mixer is set on medium, scraping side of the bowl down with spatula as needed.
- After about 4 minutes, and/or once the butter seems fully incorporated, switch to the dough hook and continue on medium speed, adding any additional flour as needed, until the dough is a smooth and no longer sticky ball (should pass the windowpane test).
- Add meat pieces and rendered fat, mixing/kneading until evenly distributed.
- Add cheese and mix in until the same, working quick but thoroughly. The dough should still be soft, stretchy, and not sticky; if it does stick somewhat, add more flour.
- Transfer to an oiled bowl, turning to coat, cover with plastic and bulk ferment at room temp 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Remove onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a Boule, as such:
- Determining a ‘bottom,’ grab and squeeze the dough on one end into the center, starting to stretch the other side.
- After this, fold one ‘edge’ of the ball into the center. Turn the dough a quarter of the way and repeat, until all four ‘sides’ have been folded in (separately, one can stretch and fold/squeeze two sides, so it turns into an oblong, before turning and doing once more).
- Set fold-side down on counter, using the edge of your hand to seal and press the bottom edges further down, stretching the top even more into a smooth, round shape (pieces of meat and cheese may stick and fall out, that’s fine).
- Carefully transfer into a prepared (spray oiled) bag and then into a properly sized can for holding, rolling or cutting the top of the bag down to 2 inches above the dough.
- Cover with plastic or a towel, proof for 60-90 minutes until it reaches the top of the bags.
- Preheat oven to 350F, setting rack to lower third of space.
- Place can in oven, bake 20 minutes before turning down to 325F and baking an additional 40 minutes or until 185-190F. Dough will be golden brown on top, and bread will have risen just above the bags.
- Remove and transfer to a cooling rack for a bit. Carefully remove the bags from cans (may need to run knife along edge) and cut slits or remove bag to allow steam to escape.
- Slice and serve when desired, no butter needed (though it does bump it up to 11).
What Have I Learned This Time?
When dealing with unique baking vessels, such as big cans and/or (most importantly) bags, let it cool at LEAST a few minutes before trying to overturn on a cooling rack/cutting board.
I can’t re-use bags after uses like this…
Either my cooking thermometer is losing its touch and being rather shitty, or I just can’t rely on inside dough temperatures. Which sucks.
If I ever make another cheese-filled bread again in the future, I either need to A: really make sure it’s THOROUGHLY and evenly distributed, or B: (and much more likely I think) mix in a notable amount LESS than the recipe calls for. I think 4oz will be an acceptable amount on my next turn at this guy (and I think I’ll certainly make it again at some point in the future).
Actually, now re-looking over the recipe, I was supposed to Grate it instead of cutting into cubes… think that had something to do with it? (oops)
Fatty pepperoni, a big glob of ooey gooey melty cheese oozing from the middle, and a crusty yet soft, buttery dough surrounding it all… you wanna know what I REALLY made today? Pizza Bread. Hell, tastes just like a certain appetizer from Old Chicago.
Oh, and I’m very happy with how the dough actually turned out while working with it; I can’t claim whether it was truly perfect or not, but it came out feeling nice and smooth, soft, not sticky, completely ideal in what one would expect a dough to turn out. Not to mention that, eaten the next day after cooling down, was actually able to taste a bit of that nice little yeasty flavor in the bread itself. I’m getting there!
Does the Dough Like Me Yet?
Currently playful, letting me have some fun with it but giving a big fat raspberry when I think all is right. Like a woman shutting a door after a whole day of fun and ‘teasing’…