BBA Challenge #5: Casatiello

Published January 24, 2012 by livinggraciously

This week’s bread was the first one with which I was completely unfamiliar. Casatiello is an Italian version of brioche. It decreases the amount of butter in the bread, but replaces it with cheese and cured meat.

How bad can that be?

For the cheese, I chose a nice aged Gouda: strong enough to carry the bread without being overpowering. For the meat, I decided against salami or sausage and decided to go with a really nice, thick cut Amish bacon.

I realized I had a problem when I pulled out the cast iron frying pan. Suddenly husband, daughter, and daughter’s girlfriend were all in the kitchen. “Bacon…?” they asked, eyes wild.

Fortunately, I’d purchased lots of bacon. So the first batch went to the ravening wolves I call family. Once they were satisfied, I was able to cook up bacon chunks–and threaten the fingers of anyone thinking about nibbling.

These were the add-ins for the bread:

Yup, that’s gonna be one healthy loaf!

When it was all kneaded together, it looked like this

After rising, the instructions were to put it in loaf pans or a brioche pan, but it was really too soft for a loaf, so I used a springform pan instead:

You can see the air pockets in the bread, which look good buy also say “no good gluten skin,” meaning that it’s not going to form up well as a loaf. Definitely well-served by the springform.

It came out of the oven very pretty:

And once it cooled, the crumb was nice:

As for the flavor, it was pronounced delicious, with the one suggestion that it needed more bacon. The book says that the “coarsely grated cheese” will result in little pockets of cheesy goodness, but I found that it melted into the bread pretty evenly. Perhaps Reinhart has a cheese grater that has even larger holes than mine. Overall, it was a favorite–and won’t appear on our table very often because of its richness!

Oh, and while all this was going on, I was also making my regular sourdough bread. Despite my attempt at making the two breads follow each other into the oven, it was clear that they were both going to be oven-ready at the same time. Once again, I got to use my lower oven. Though I thought early on that maybe it had been a silly thing to want, it’s turning out the be very handy! Both breads came out of the oven within 15 minutes of each other.

I call that a successful baking day!

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