Casatiello

(Makes 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves)

Photo by Cathy T.

PREP TIME

--

minutes

TOTAL TIME

--

minutes

SERVINGS

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servings

PREP TIME

--

minutes

TOTAL TIME

--

minutes

SERVINGS

--

servings

Ingredients

  • Sponge:

  • 1/2

    cup bread flour

  • 1

    tablespoon dry active yeast

  • 1

    cup warm whole milk or buttermilk (about 105 degrees F.)

  • Dough:

  • 4

    ounces salami or similar meat, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

  • 3-1/2

    cups bread flour

  • 1

    teaspoon salt

  • 1

    tablespoon sugar

  • 2

    eggs, slightly beaten

  • 6

    ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 6

    ounces shredded provolone or similar cheese

  • Olive oil for greasing pans and brushing on loaves

Directions

To make the sponge: Combine the flour and yeast in a bowl. Stir in the milk to make a pancake-like batter. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 1 hour. While the sponge is fermenting: Saute the salami in a small skillet until crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the fried salami to a paper towel to drain. Save the rendered fat if you wish to incorporate it into the bread later (optional). To make the dough: In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar with a spoon. If you prefer to use an electric mixer, combine the ingredients on low with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs and the sponge and combine the mixture until a very coarse dough forms. Divide the butter into 5 or 6 small pieces and work into the dough, one piece at a time. The dough will begin to get softer and more elastic. If you are using an electric mixer, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface at this point. Knead the dough until smooth. Add the salami pieces and knead until they are evenly distributed. Then add the shredded cheese and knead the dough again until the cheese is distributed. Lightly grease a large bowl, transfer the dough to the bowl, and turn it to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough increases 1-1/2 times in size. Divide the dough into 2 pieces for small loaves or leave in one piece for a large loaf. Lightly grease your baking pans. Shape the dough and place in the pan(s). Cover the pans with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Allow the loaves to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the dough reaches the top edge of the pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly brush the tops of the loaves with olive oil. Bake the loaves for 40 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the pans from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack. Let the bread cool in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely. Casatiello is a rich savory bread filled with meat and cheese that is a traditional Easter bread from Naples, Italy. The bread is traditionally baked in paper bags or panettone molds, but it can also be baked in loaf pans. Salami or pepperoni add an intense flavor to this bread but any flavorful meat, such as crisped Italian sausage, crumbled bacon, or pancetta, may be substituted. The rendered fat may be added to the dough as a substitute for an equal part of the butter. Other types of cheese with a distinctive flavor, such as Asiago or Fontina, may also be used in place of the provolone. Casatiello is loaded with flavor and can be eaten alone, with a bowl of soup or pasta, toasted with butter, or filled with slices of ham and cheese or tomato, basil, and mozzarella for a wonderful panini.

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