proscuitto ring; a coarse rustic bread just waiting to be ripped apart.
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This is my first monthly post for 'The Bread Bible' by award winning cookbook author Rose Levy Beranbaum.
Excited by the opportunity to learn more about bread baking, my Grandfather and Great Uncle were both Master Bakers that owned their own bakery in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. The bakery sold cakes, pies, pastries but were especially known for their bread. My Great Uncle taught/lectured at the culinary university in Melbourne, particularly on the subject of wheat production.
I never met my Grandfather who died before I was born, some say that my love of baking is in my genes. I believe it's belng raised hearing about tales of the bakery from my Dad and Aunt that sparked my love of cooking.
20 years ago I ate some salami ... yep, and in 2009 my step son made chocolate bacon for a school exams and I tried that, but since this is my first bread bake from 'The Baking Bible' I'm commited to the "meat" for this loaf. Lets start with the lard.
Lard: despite its reputation, lard has less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat, and less cholesterol than an equal amount of butter by weight. Unlike many margarines and vegetable shortenings, unhydrogenated lard contains no trans fat. wikipedia
With the resurgance of traditional British recipes for the last decade (which I love!!) and favour with chefs world wide, the demand for good quality lard continues. The neutral flavour, high smoke point, lower saturated fat product is produced from swine fat. Often combined with butter to produce light and crispy pastry, lard is tradionally used in fruit studded Welsh and Lardy cakes to crispy roast potatoes.
Today's bread is a "lard bread" but is also brushed with bacon fat. Here I am making wet-rendered bacon fat, this is how you make lard too. Bacon fat is put in a saucepan (or slow cooker if you are making a lot) and boiled with water until the fat releases/melts. On cooling I skimmed the bacon fat off ready to be remelted to brush on the loaf.
wet-rendered bacon fat
The prosuciutto loaf contains three meats, prosucitto, pepperoni and hot sopressata (a dry salami). Rose suggests baked ham or even turkey ham can be substituted if desired.
I used prosuciutto, salami and bacon... because I had bacon meat left over from producing the bacon fat.
prosuciutto, probably should have been cut a little thicker than this
salami I used... couldn't anything close to hot sopressata without going to the city to get it
Flour, yeast, black pepper and barley malt syrup were combined before salt, warm water and lard are added. All done in the KitchenAid, but there is hand and food proceesor instructions in the book too.
lard brought to room temperature is spreadable and in fact is still used in parts of europe as alterative to butter.
Dough once meat has been added.
The dough is rested briefly before rolling into a sausage shape and formed into a ring and brushed with cooled melted bacon fat.
Bake in a hot oven, before reducing heat and transferring directly to baking stone for further baking, the kitchen aroma reminded me of the local pizzeria. Once removed from the oven the loaf is then brushed with bacon fat again and left to cool.
Taste, well it's surely "meaty"... the bread itself is fabulous, serve this rustic loaf as part of antipasto platter, accompany with a green salad and you have a picnic brunch, lunch for the family or a light dinner with a bottle of red to wash it all down.
Would I bake again? Yes, I can imagine using up leftover Christmas ham etc in this bread for a boxing day brunch perhaps.
Would I change anything? Oh, I'd love to give a vegetarian version a try. Charred grilled veg, little pesto... maybe some pinenuts too. Sundried tomatoes, feta and kalamata olives would be good too... add a handful of fresh herbs.
How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what bread I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Bread Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.
The Bread Bible available from Amazon and where all good books are sold.
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