Tuesday, July 21, 2009


A dangerous bread, Kayte called this. Dangerous. I pictured Casatiello as the Michael Corleone of breads, but it actually turned out to be more of the Tony Montana of breads. Because with all those pieces of sautéed salami and pockets of melted provolone hidden within? Well. Let's just say it gives "Say hello to my little friend" a whole new meaning.

Casatiello is an Italian bread, kind of the flip side of panettone, the bread stuffed with candied fruit and nutmeats that Italians traditionally serve at Christmastime. The little cubes of salami and provolone are tucked into a rich brioche dough (poor man's variety) and I have to say, I think it is the best bread I have ever eaten. Ever. Whether in a simple slice or in a sandwich, it is so incredibly good, I can see why Kayte called it dangerous.

Making this bread was as easy as falling off a log because I CHEATED. Yes, I did and I'm not sorry. I halved Peter's recipe, sitting at my kitchen table with my bangs in my eyes and my glasses perched on the tip of my nose, doing subtraction problems on a piece of scratch paper and murmuring to myself. I finally just gave it up because, if you read my review of Poor Man's Brioche, you'll know that the handmade Poor Man's Brioche recipe in Peter's book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, was identical to a recipe called "Egg Bread" in the little pamphlet cookbook I got with my bread machine all those years ago. Peter's recipe did call for a little more butter, but that was not a problem -- I just put more into the machine's baking pan.

Yes, I used my bread machine. However, I did set it on the dough cycle, so I did have to do a punch down, a short rising, another punch down and the final proofing. What? You were thinking I was totally lazy and let the machine do everything? Not me!

Since the machine was doing all the work doing the job it was built to do, I sat in the living room drinking iced tea and reading my book until I was summoned by a discreet beep-beep-beep to come and add the salami and the provolone. With that minor chore complete, I was free to do what I wanted for the next hour.

When it was time for the final punching-rising-punching-proofing sequence, I did it all with ease -- I have acquired a few skills! -- and slid the pan into the oven. I wanted to use a regular bread pan so that my loaf would come out ready for sandwiches.

And ohhhhh, did it. It came out of the oven about an hour before my husband got home and I was already hungry. I waited for forty-five minutes, which was surely a virtuous thing to do, and then sawed off the heel of one side. Oh, my gosh....the aroma! And the flavor! It was so delicious and completely different from any bread I've ever had before.

For dinner last night, then, my husband and I had big pub sandwiches made of thick slices of grilled Casatiello and stuffed with ham and provolone. Romantically, a pub sandwich would be consumed with a pint of home-brewed ale and maybe a side of mushy peas, but my husband made do with a frosty mug of Bud. If I asked him to eat mushy peas, he would rebel, although he is an enthusiastic eater of non-mushy peas. I, a total plebian, had a glass of milk. I was made fun of.

Today for breakfast, I had a thick sliced, grilled with a sliver of provolone on top.

For lunch, I had another slice, thicker, grilled on both sides and then topped with a sliced tomato that I'd picked out of my mother's garden forty-five minutes before. Then I put two slices of provolone on top and let the cheese get melty over the tomato.

I was in HEAVEN. There has never been such a lunch.

If you buy this book for no other reason (and it is a really great book, believe me) buy it for that Casatiello recipe. It is that good. And dangerous. It is a dangerous, dangerous bread.

1 comment:

Kayte said...

See, didn't I tell you that was the greatest bread? It was so delicious 45 minutes out of the oven, but truly, even a couple of days later it was so good. That warm oozing goodness out of the oven, though...oh, I can't wait to make it again. I am going to make sandwich buns like I did with the second round of Anadama bread with my next batch so Mark can take it as sandwich into work.