Nov 122009
 

Continuing in the vein of brioche variations , today’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice bread is casiatello, a sort of savory Italian brioche with meat and cheese stuffed inside.

I’m not gonna lie: I’m kinda overdosing on all of these ridiculously rich white breads. I’m a whole-grain kind of girl and doing these white breads is certainly fun, but it’s not how I like to regularly cook and eat. Add on to that the fact that I’m not a big meat-eater (especially processed meats – I never eat them!), and it’s no surprise that I came into this bread a little under-enthused. Regardless, I decided to just go ahead and do it and get it out of the way because baby, challah and ciabatta are next! Think of casiatello as an investment. I’m sure there are those of you out there who are less Type A and are like “Uhm, Stacey, why don’t you just skip this one if you don’t wanna do it?” Because that’s not how we do it in the BBAC! It’s every bread in the book, in order! Those are the rules and even though there’s no one enforcing them it would really chafe me to break them. I come from a long line of anal retentive people so you can imagine my horror when my Mom told me she’s going to go out of order and she suggested I do the same. I may have to turn her in to the Bread Police.


Anyway, that whole paragraph was kind of one huge digression, so I’ll get on with it already.

Golden brown and tender: the large round loaf of casiatello
Nikon D50

When it came to ingredients, I stuck with an Italian dry salami like suggested but I couldn’t find a decent provolone so I went with a gruyere instead, despite some misgivings about how incredibly salty this loaf was going to end up being. The assembly of the dough was pretty straightforward after having done brioche just a few days ago. The sponge was very different from the others we’ve put together – much more soupy – and nowhere near as cool as the sponge I got so attached to from the brioche. I had to give this sponge a little extra time and it still never sighed when tapped on the countertop (most likely because it was too slack to really sigh the same way). The rest of the dough assembly was very similar to the brioche and, like the brioche, needed no hand-kneading. The big difference here was that there was a single room-temperature fermentation – no chill in the fridge here, which was nice because I seriously doubt I could have found room for a sheet pan.

Once the fermentation was done it was time to shape the dough. When I first started reading over the recipe I was delighted to see that, compared to middle-class brioche, there is relatively little butter – but then I remembered the salami and cheese that are added and quickly realized that my arteries, oh, they will curse me so. I was really not relishing the idea of having a couple of pounds of casiatello hanging around yet I was loathe to give it all away without tasting it, but then I had a sudden inspiration. I pulled out one of my mini loaf pans that’s equivalent to about 1/3 of a 9×5 loaf pan and decided it would be the perfect portion to keep for Cory and me. The rest went into the spring-form cake-pan suggested by Mr. Reinhart and that loaf is destined for Cory’s office!

Golden brown and tender: the large round loaf of casiatello
Nikon D50

I eyeballed a portion that I thought would fit the mini loaf pan, chopped it off with my bench scraper, formed it into a rough little loaf that looked a tad too small, took a bit more dough from the mother loaf, then a little more, and finally was satisfied. I had a bit of trouble shaping both the mini loaf and the larger dough into a boule because the salami was disrupting the otherwise smooth gluten surface. Once I finally got a result I was semi-satisfied with I set them to proof. When I came back an hour later I was pleasantly surprised by how much they grew in the pans but I may have let them go a little too long (especially the mini loaf) because they didn’t spring back at all when poked. Despite that setback, they had great oven spring and grew quite a bit more in the oven (I credit the boiling-water-poured-over-a-preheated-cast-iron-skillet-filled-with-lava-rocks trick for this success) but they never really browned the way I’d hoped they would, despite reaching the right internal temperature. Even stranger, they didn’t really smell that great while they were baking. I never really smelt the bread itself – just the salami. Every other bread I’ve baked so far in the challenge was intoxicating, present a real challenge to the “Thou shalt not cut into the loaf until completely cooled” commandment, but I wasn’t particularly tempted by casiatello.

Tender casiatello
Nikon D50

When I finally sliced into the bread the next day, I was impressed by the exceptionally tender crumb and the nice cheese flavor. The flavor was salty but not unpleasantly so: it was like the saltiness of a yummy hard cheese (no surprise since that’s what’s in there). I was actually thoroughly enjoying myself until a couple of bites later when I got to the salami. Yep, I could definitely do without that. Other than that though, it’s a pretty good bread. Definitely decadent – don’t forget that this is a cousin of brioche.

Will I make this again? Maybe for special occasions or if there are going to be a lot of dudes around. It definitely strikes me as a Man Bread. I’d definitely consider using a different meat and if I still had access to reindeer sausage I’d use it in a heartbeat. In the variation vein, I’ve seen several posts from fellow BBACers who made vegetarian versions with things like sun-dried tomatoes so I will keep that in mind if I want to go the vegetarian route, but, well, sorry Mr. Reinhart, but I think I will skip your suggestion to use toasted tofu.

Tender casiatello
Nikon D50

See also: Heather’s casiatello.

I’m taking a bit of a break from the BBAC this weekend. I’m going to Texas for a quick visit with the folks and my Mom and I are taking a bread class! It’s all about artisan breads and seems to focus on pre-ferments. It’ll be fun to hopefully make some more rustic lean doughs!
When I get back, next up: Can I get a holla? Challah!

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