Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Have a slice of cake......

Or is it?

Actually, the above is bread baked in a cake tin, and so the ‘cake-like’ wedges. After baking a few sweet breads, I thought it might be a good change to make a savoury loaf. I think I still prefer something more saltish and hearty for breakfast, since that’s usually my ‘heaviest’ meal of the day.

The recipe for this Casatiello loaf is from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, currently my most tried-and-tested bread book. Casatiello is a traditional savoury Easter bread from the region of Campania, Italy. It’s loaded with lots of cheese and pieces of meat, usually salami, and traditionally made with lard. According to Mr Reinhart, the Casatiello is best described as the savoury version of the panettone, which is also very rich and buttery.

I totally agree with him. Even during baking, the aroma of the cheese and salami wafting through my kitchen is sufficient to make me hungry. About baking for half an hour, I could see the little pockets of cheese bursting into brown spots on the surface. Slicing through the bread reveals a moist crumb studded with salami pieces and melted cheese. You really don’t need any more accompaniments to this bread, because each piece is a great sandwich on its own.

Casatiello(adapted recipe)

Makes one 8-inch loaf

Sponge ingredients
30g bread flour
6g active dry yeast
115ml fresh milk, or buttermilk(see note 1)

Dough ingredients
260g bread flour
½ tsp salt
½ tbsp sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp olive oil(see note 2)

85g coarsely grated cheese(use Swiss gruyere, provolone, Gouda or Cheddar)
100g salami slices(see note 3)

1) Make the sponge first by combining the flour and yeast in a bowl. Add in the milk and whisk to make a pancake-like batter. Cover the bowl and let ferment at room temperature for one hour. The sponge will foam and bubble.
2) In the meantime, pan-fry or toast the salami slices until crispy. Drain off the oil and crumble into smaller pieces.
3) Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add in the egg and sponge from (1).
4) Using the paddle attachment of the mixture, mix on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in a ball. If it appears too dry, add in small amount of water so that there is no loose flour. Cover the dough and rest it for 10 mins.
5) After 10 minutes, add in the olive oil and mix until incorporated. Then switch to dough hook and knead on Speed 2 until soft and elastic, about 10 mins. Add in the salami pieces and knead(or mix) until evenly distributed. Then add the cheese and gently knead(or mix) until it is also evenly distributed. The dough should be soft and elastic, but not sticky.
6) Round the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl. Cover with cling wrap and let rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
7) Punch dough down and shape into a ball. Cover and rest for 10 minutes.
8) Line the bottom of an 8-inch round tin and grease the sides. Flatten into a disk shape and place in the centre of the prepared tin. Let rest for 5 mins. Using your fingertips, gently push/stretch the dough out from the centre until it touches the side of tin. If at anytime the dough resists stretching, let dough rest for 5 mins before continuing. Cover with cling wrap and let rise until dough has risen to the top of the tin, about 50-60 minutes.
9) Bake in a pre-heated 180C oven for about 35-40 minutes until evenly golden brown and cooked through. Turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool at least one hour before slicing.

(1) I make my own buttermilk by combining ½ tbsp lemon juice with enough milk to make 120ml. Using buttermilk will impart a slight tangy-ness to the loaf.
(2) If you like a richer version of this bread, use 85g unsalted butter(at room temperature) in place of olive oil at Step 5, as in the original recipe. Mine is a ‘leaner’ version.
(3) Besides salami, pepperoni, bacon or chorizo can also be used. Just be sure to cut into smaller pieces, then sauté them to crisped them and release the fragrance.

This bread is at its best served slightly warm, where there’ll still be pockets of melting cheese. But if you need to store them, toast them lightly the next day and they will still be delish.


Patricia Scarpin said...

Angie, your bread looks so beautiful! I'm dreaming of the cheese spots now... :D

Anh said...

Your bread turns out perfect Angie! Lovely... I would eat it almost everyday!

You know the one who introduced this bread to America is Carol Field. Her book, the Italian Baker, started the whole Artisanal Bread Craze... :D We benefit from it though since now there are more bread books available for us to refer to!

Happy Homebaker said...

Wow, your bread looks so stunning and yummy! I would love to have savoury breads for breakfast =D

Unknown said...

Patricia, :), and thanks!

Anh, yes, Mr Reinhart mentioned Carol Field too in the recipe. You are so right, now we have a wider variety of bread books, but it makes our decision-making more difficult ya? :p

Edith said...

Angie, your bread always makes me hungry leh.

Andrea Lim said...

Wow,your bread are beautiful. Really, you make it sound so easy, as I am enthusiastic about bread making, especially the artisan type. Haven't tried the Bread Bible yet, will give it a try. I'm amazed.