This month I have returned to breads made with yeast, particularly those from one of my favourite reads, The Italian Baker, by Carol Field. Carol Field journeyed through villages and homes throughout the Italian countryside to collect recipes. They were then published in her original volume in 1985. This classic was revised in 2011. Few photos or glossy styled food shots adorn this book. It is a pleasure to read even if you never bake from it. It is often assumed, because of its title and appealing photo of ciabatta on the front cover, that it deals solely with bead: in fact, there are numerous chapters on cakes, biscuits and pastry, some of the latter collected from Nonne in remote villages, recipes that are tinged with nostalgia e memorie.
A good egg enriched cheese bread is not a daily offering but a special treat to go with a creamy soup, a celery velouté, for example. I followed Field’s recipe for this, but decided to make dinner rolls and a little bâtard with the final dough. The recipe is simple and precise, but next time, I might use all the little odds and ends of leftover cheese residing in boxes in the fridge.
The recipe includes details for making the bread by hand, by mixer and food processor. Each method is a little different. I am using a stand mixer, because I am lucky enough to have one: it gets a good workout every week and was a worthwhile investment.
Pane al Formaggio– Cheese bread.
- 2½ or 7 g active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons or 30 g olive oil
- 3¾ cups or 500 g unbleached bakers flour
- 2 teaspoons or 10 g salt
- ½ cup or 75 g grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup or 50 g grated pecorino cheese
- I large egg white, beaten, for glazing.
Method By Stand Mixer
Stir the yeast into the water in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Mix in the eggs and oil with the paddle, then the flour, salt and cheeses. Change to the dough hook and knead until firm, velvety and elastic, 3- 4 minutes. The texture may be slightly grainy from the cheeses.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
Second Rise and shaping.
Punch the dough down on a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Cut the dough in half and shape each piece into a round loaf or batârd shape. Place on a baking sheet or peel sprinkled with cornmeal, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven with a baking stone ( if you have one) to 220c. Just before baking, baste the loaves with the egg white. Slash the long loaves with three parallel cuts. Sprinkle the stone with cornmeal and slide the loaves onto it. Bake for 40 minutes, spraying the oven three tines with water in the first 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.
The Italian Baker, revised. Carol Field, 2011. Ten Speed Press.
Another contribution to Leah’s Cookbook Guru, who is highlighting The Italian Baker this month.