There are some people that believe certain events occur in their life for a predetermined reason and others that believe that incidents are just determined by a random series of events. I have to admit that I usually flip flop between the two ends of the spectrum. Six weeks ago, I was surfing the net, doing research for an article I was writing for my column, and I happened to come across Nicole’s “Pinch my Salt” blog. She was talking about baking her way through the cookbook, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”, and was wondering if anyone was interested in joining her. Without even hesitating, I signed up. At first I thought it was just a random series of events that brought me to her site. But after this week’s baking challenge, I’m not so sure anymore. Maybe there’s a reason why I’m supposed to be baking my way through this book.
When my daughter came into the kitchen on Sunday morning to find me mixing up the sponge for the Casatiello bread, her face fell. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “Oh you’re just starting the bread now. I guess that means it won’t be ready until tomorrow.” Over the first four weeks of the Bread Bakers Apprentice Challenge, my family became aware that that good bread takes time, usually 2 days. When I told my daughter that this bread only takes 5 hours she was thrilled, “Oh good, it’s a fast one!” This from the mouth of a fast food generation babe! Maybe it was meant to be that I teach my children that good bread, like all things in life is hard work and patience will reap great benefits. including better tasting bread.
Casatiello is an Italian type of brioche enriched with cheese and meat, typically provolone and salami. Since we have a vegetarian in the family, the salami was out. Haley of Appoggiatura had suggested mushrooms but the ones I had in the fridge were too slimy to even consider so I opted to use Kalamata olives and Fontina cheese. In the very back of the cheese drawer I found some Yves spicy italian veggie sausages. I buy them for my daughter but have never tried them. So while my buttermilk sponge was doing its work I decided to dice up few, saute them and see how they tasted. I had my doubts. However, I was pleasantly surprised. They had a meaty texture and salty taste that I thought would be good with the olives and fontina
After about an hour the sponge was ready and it was time to mix up the dough. When I began mixing it seemed as if the ingredients would never come together. It was just a big shaggy sticky mess.
However, Peter Reinhart (author of the BBA book) said the dough would eventually change from sticky to tacky and would finally come off the sides of the bowl. As usual, he was right.
I was very excited to mix in the olives, sausage and cheese by hand. I loved handling this dough. It was smooth and supple and so satiny.
Another minute of hand kneading and the dough was ready for fermentation.
I placed the dough into a well greased measuring cup and left it to do it’s magic.
After 90 minutes the Casatiello dough had doubled.
I weighed the dough, divided it in half and formed 2 round loaves (boules). Each loaf went into a greased 5 inch paper panettone pan.
After 90 minutes the dough just peeked over the top of the paper. Oven time.
They took about 35 minutes to bake.
The book said to cut slits into the paper to allow the steam to escape but I was too impatient to see the sides of the bread, so I carefully peeled the papers off and let them cool naked.
We tore into them after an hour . They were a unanimous success. The cheese inside was still warm and gooey. The little bits of cheese that had oozed out of the dough formed crunchy little nuggets on the outside. The sausage and olives added a salty tangy dimention only slightly tempered by the creamy cheese.
Now I’m wondering if my weight gain from eating all this bread is happening for a predetermined reason? If anyone has any insight into this, please share!
Next week’s bread is Challah. Stay tuned.