Butter, whole milk, eggs, salami and cheddar cheese. Just when you thought bread couldn’t get much richer than brioche, along comes its Italian cousin. Casatiello can be made with just about any cured meat, and perhaps I should have splurged for some sopressata or at least some prosciutto. The latter, at least, would have been much leaner, and by extension more healthy, than the hard salami that I chose. Unlike brioche, however, I am in love with this bread. A little spicy mustard, some crisp romaine and a few slices of the tomatoes now ripening in my garden and I have a sandwich that surpasses most anything I ever took in my lunchbox. In the words of my husband, “This is awesomeness in a loaf!”

Alas, things have been hectic around here and so I did not take photos as I went. But really, how many photos of ingredients in the bowl of a KitchenAid Professional 600 6-quart stand mixer can you see before becoming bored? The recipe comes of course from Peter Reinhart’s “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” and can be found on page 129. As I often do, I made just a few changes to this recipe. I omitted the sugar entirely and did not substitute any replacement. While I’m sure it was there to help feed the yeast, the small amount didn’t seem significant and I was out. Additionally I replaced eight of the 16 ounces of bread flour with King Arthur Flour’s White Whole Wheat and increased the amount of water used by three tablespoons. The cheese was reduced from six ounces to four.

As usual, I also stink at planning far enough ahead, though in this case it was not entirely my fault. My milk had gotten pushed to the back of the refrigerator and had frozen solid. Oops! I stuck it in the microwave just long enough to thaw out the majority of it, coming up with a scant eight ounces which then got mixed with the initial two and one-quarter ounces of flour and a tablespoon of yeast for the sponge. Of course the milk was not yet fully warm enough and so my sponge took an extra 15 minutes to become bubbly enough to use. When I first began baking I was a slave to the directions, following each recipe to the exact gram and degree to the best of my ability. I have since learned that, at least when it comes to temperature of ingredients, the only real consequence most of the time is that it will take my bread longer to rise. Well, I figure I might as well spend that same 15 minutes waiting for my sponge to bubble as I would waiting for the milk to come to room temperature!

Butter, on the other hand, I have learned to soften, and so the six ounces of it that the recipe calls for were set out along with the two eggs while my sponge was bubbling away. The consequences of butter at the wrong temperature are much more dire: too cold and it will not mix into your dough, too warm and your dough will become a runny, greasy mess. The first results in a great deal more work, the latter can be corrected by placing your dough into the refrigerator for about 10-20 minutes in most cases.

While the sponge ripened the cheese was grated and the salami cut into small bits and pan fried to render off the fat. In retrospect I probably could have gone smaller with the salami to spread it more evenly throughout the Casatiello. The butter was cut into chunks per the direction and the main bulk of the flour, 16 ounces, was mixed with the salt. Once the sponge was ready the two lightly beaten eggs were added and then the dry ingredients.

Like it’s French cousin, the brioche, this dough has a resting period after the initial mixing. Once all ingredients have been mixed together, Reinhart instructs to allow it to rest for 10 minutes. This resting period is essential, and cannot be rushed! Butter, oil, or fat in bread will coat the flour if it is added too early and will prevent the development of gluten so it must be allowed to form, in this case by a 10 minute autolyse, before being added. Adding the butter was interesting as, for the most part, it wanted to coat the bowl of the stand mixer rather than working itself into the dough. This resulted in the dough sliding around without actually being kneaded. My solution was to stop the mixer, spread the dough out some and drop butter into the center. After folding some of the dough over the butter I restarted the mixer and all went well.

Having decided that this bread would make a great sandwich I went ahead and made loaves rather than boules. The two loaves were baked in the oven in metal loaf pans for about 35 minutes at 350F until the internal temperature was almost 200F. Reinhart says that it is done when the internal temperature is 190F, but I usually find that, for me, this means the bread is just slightly underdone.

I think I can definitely say I’m proud of this bread and I shall be submitting it to Susan over at Wild Yeast for this week’s Yeastspotting. Thankfully, after this, we go back to unenriched breads for a couple of sessions with challah and the ciabatta next up on the list.

Now, for the truly bad news (other than that my husband isn’t bringing any to work!). The nutrition information:
The recipe makes roughly 2 lbs. 13oz of bread. Per 1oz:
Calories: 191, Fat: 11g, Carbohydrate: 18g, Fiber: 2g

5 Comments on BBA Challenge #5: Casatiello

  1. Susie says:

    VERY nice. Lots of calories yes but oh so goody. :)
    Have fun and nice baking along with you,

  2. Mimi says:

    I love the idea of making a sandwich with this bread. I bet it was absolutely delicious!

  3. I can see why you’re proud of this — pure awesomeness!

  4. Jeff says:

    I loved this one although I never knew the calorie amount. EEK!!!!!!

    Nicely done!

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