Monday, June 15, 2009

Bread Baker's Apprentice 5/43: casatiello

So last week -- inspired by my buttery brioche -- I made the outrageous claim that I was going to start a running program. And now, one week later, I am pleased and -- quite honestly -- rather surprised to report that I have indeed started running: I'm on week one of The Runner's Handbook beginning runner's schedule and feeling pretty good. But it bears mentioning that I also made another brioche-like bread this week, called casatiello, which is full of butter and, oh yeah, cheese. And olives.

Thank goodness I got myself moving this week. Just in the nick of time, it would seem.

The fifth recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice is the aforementioned casatiello, which Peter Reinhart describes as "a rich, dreamy Italian elaboration of brioche, loaded with flavor bursts in the form of cheese and bits of meat, preferably salami." I don't eat red meat, but decided to make my casatiello with Genoa salami anyway and feed it to Dad, who never met a cured meat he didn't like. (In fact, he has been known to eat a stick of pepperoni for dinner, slicing off piece after piece until the whole thing has disappeared. Mom generally disapproves of such behavior, for the record.) I headed over to my very favorite Italian market, DeVitis, to buy the salami and provolone. Then I remembered that I had some olives in the refrigerator and decided to make two loaves, one meat-full for Dad and one meat-free for me. Everybody wins!

The casatiello dough is similar to brioche dough -- both are enriched with butter and eggs. However, the casatiello dough only incorporates one and a half sticks of butter versus the rich man's brioche's four sticks. So you see? Right there. Saving calories.

Casatiello also might be the most gorgeous dough with which I've ever worked. It's soft and stretchy and supple, and at no point did it make me want to kill myself. (Most doughs, at one time or another, occupy this hellish territory -- either it's too sticky and encases your fingers until it's well-kneaded or it's too dry and starts to feel like glue as you incorporate a little water or it just plain old has a bad attitude, the Mr. T. of gluten.) This dough was a pleasure to mix and knead. It didn't stick to anything and required little bench flour and just felt right. What fun.

I baked my loaves in paper panettone molds that I bought last December when I was feeling industrious and thinking I'd bake up some panettone for Christmas. I never did get around to that, but was very pleased to remember that I had the molds stashed away in the pantry. The dough fit the paper molds perfectly and rose and baked nicely in them. The finished casatiello looked at home in their paper cloaks -- somehow fancy and rustic at the same time.

As for the finished product, I can't vouch for the salami and provolone loaf. But I'm thinking if you liked salami you'd like this casatiello. The suspended nuggets of Genoa salami looked right at home in the crumb, surrounded by flecks of melted provolone. I can understand what Reinhart means when he describes this bread as a sandwich unto itself. I sent the loaf home with Mom when she came over to walk the dogs with me tonight; she's going to pack some up for Dad's lunch tomorrow but we're guessing he'll probably eat it for breakfast instead.

Now, I am qualified to say that the olive and provolone loaf is spectacular. I used flavorful wrinkly-skinned Moroccan olives along with the shredded provolone to enhance the dough. The olives permeate the crumb with their assertive but not overpowering salty flavor, making you want to eat slice after slice.

But you know, since I'm a runner now I'm trying to control myself. Emphasis on "trying."


The Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge asks that we do not share specific recipes. But if you have some salami, cheese and/or olives on hand and wish to experiment with an obedient and tasty dough, turn your copy of the book to page 129.


Michelle said...

It looks fabulous and I love your additional of olives too.

Pete Eatemall said...

Sold on the Olive idea. Another veggie option!! Yay! I will keep that in my notes for next time. Thanks for the idea! Happy Baking!

Susie said...

Great looking loaves. The OLIVES are a great idea.
Nice baking along with you,

misterrios said...

Awesome idea on the olives. Wish I had thought of it too!

Anonymous said...

Love the way the bread turned out - those panettone cups are a great idea!

Cindy said...

I know what you mean about loving this dough. I could have kneaded it all day. I just loved that silky feel. I made mine with Kalamata olives and fontina and added some spicy veggie sausage (which I diced up and sautees first) and it was amazing.

Kudos to you for sticking with the running. I have a feeling we're going to need it with cinnamon buns just around the corner.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Love the loaf with olives in it. What a great idea!!!

Dianne said...

Thanks, everyone, for your wonderful comments and compliments! You know, as I sit here at work I'm kicking myself for not packing a few pieces of the olive bread. Would have made an excellent afternoon snack!

And Cindy, you're right -- my nascent running program is the perfect foil to the upcoming cinnamon buns.

From Scratch said...

OMG. I just stuffed myself with dinner, but if that was in front of me right now, I know I'd find more room! LOL. :)

Unknown said...

Congrats on the running! And I wish I had made a vegetarian version - your olive loaf looks much tastier than my salami filled loaf.

Jeff said...

I have been seeing the olive idea pop up quite often and kind of bummed I did not try it. Not like I don't have jars of olives in the refrigerator.

I am happy someone has decided to take action from this bread making. I on the other hand have gone the opposite direction and am turning into a ghost at the gym. Eek!!!! Going to have to get back on the ball.

Looks awesome!

Unknown said...

Thanks guys! I was really pleased with the olive loaf. I've found that the flavors really mellowed, too, and enjoyed the slices I cut the following day even more than I did fresh out of the oven.

Jeff, thank you. Had to do something; could tell I was rapidly transforming into a large mass of dough myself.

Laura said...

I don't know whether to be horrified or impressed by all the running. :) Once again, I agree with your dad. Salami might be the best thing to have come out of Italy as far as I am concerned. Somehow I totally missed this book in BBA. Will have to look for it.... I make panettone for my parents for xmas, maybe I will get extra paper molds for this....