Sunday, July 26, 2009

BBA Slow & Steady #5: Casatiello Roundup

The BBA Challenge marches on (although a bit more like a stroll for those of us in the Slow & Steady subgroup) as we continue our way through all of the breads in Peter Reinhart's book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. The current bread is Casatiello, an Italian version of brioche - rich and buttery and stuffed with cheese and salami. In a pinch, this bread could be a meal in itself! Our little Slow & Steady subgroup members were split between those who made loaves and those who made rolls, but all of us enjoyed the taste of this one. As it turns out, the loaves are first and then the rolls:

Di, of Di's Kitchen Notebook, and her husband belong to an Italian-American genealogy group, and Di was excited to find a bread that she can share when they attend the group's next pot-luck dinner! Di had a lot of fun playing with the recipe, baking one salami version and another "pizza" version with sun-dried tomatoes, asiago and mozzarella (pictured up top). Read her post, Now that's Italian.


Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table made lovely sandwich-style loaves of bread, studded with salami and cheese. Her family loved this bread plain and in sandwiches. A little birdie told me that Kayte has made this recipe again (and again!) as rolls and they just flew off the table at a swim meet. Kayte's post: BBA Challenge: Casatiello.


Audrey of Food From Books found the bread's dough to be quite lively at each stage of the breadmaking, rising (even quadrupling at one point). A breakfast chicken sausage sounded delicious to Audrey, so that's what she added to her bread in lieu of salami, along with some dried apples. Audrey got great loaf-shaping practice in making her dough into 4 mini loaves that she could pop in the freezer for later enjoyment. Check out the full post: Bread Bakers Apprentice #5: Casatiello


Leslie of Lethally Delicious has joined us this month. Even though she's quite new to bread-baking, Leslie has taken the yeast world by storm. Her all-cheese version of casatiello is stunning, and she found it perfect for sandwiches or alongside lentil chili. Yum! Here's her post: BBA - Casatiello


Melissa of From Laptop to Stovetop uses words like "YUM", "YES!" and "delightful" to describe this bread, so it's safe to guess that it was a hit at her house! She baked her casatiello as a pan loaf, but I'm guessing that she'll be experimenting with the paper-bag variation sometime soon...
Read about it here: Bread Baker's Apprentice: Casatiello


Jessica of The Singleton in the Kitchen found out that making this bread in single-serve portions suited her singleton lifestyle quite well - she made adorable little rolls in paper molds that she'll pull from the freezer as needed.
Jessica's post: BBA SOS: Casatiello


Sarah, of Blue Ridge Baker, is a lifelong vegetarian and was going to skip this bread, but then she was inspired by not one, but two, substitutions for the salami. This time she used cheese and toasted walnuts, and next time she'll use sun-dried tomatoes (and there will be a next time, because she loved this bread!) Get the details in her post: BBA Challenge: Casatiello.


I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved the bacon and cheese rolls that I made with this bread formula. My best stab at what they would be called in Italy is "casatiellini." Here's my post: Bacon Casatiellini {bba}


Cathy of The Tortefeasor baked this bread weeks ago, and even though her second career as party planner (!) has kept her too busy to post it yet, she sent the fabulous picture just above. About this bread (which her family found yummy) she says: "Nothing will make you realize that it's not an orange cranberry muffin faster than a bite of pepperoni."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bacon Casatiellini {bba}

It's time for the next bread in Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. As part of the BBA Challenge, I am baking my way through the book, from beginning to end, which in this case means alphabetically. (We've baked the "A" and "B" breads already. Sadly there are not breads for every letter of the alphabet, but the early letters are well-represented at least!) This week's bread is Casatiello, which according to the book's author Peter Reinhart is "a rich, dreamy Italian elaboration on brioche".

In truth, I cannot say I was super-excited to be making more brioche, seeing as I'd just baked the BBA brioche, and the most recent Tuesdays With Dorie choice was a brioche-crusted tart (posted on my other blog, here). But "in for a penny, in for a pound" as they say; the Challenge is to bake each recipe in order, so that's what I'll do.

A few things turned around my attitude on this recipe:

1. I was amazed and inspired by what Holly, of the blog PheMOMenon did with her casatiello - she made mini loaves in little white paper cups (known sometimes as nut cups) Bingo! I could make individual rolls for...

2. My book group was having a summer dinner. Baking casatiello as dinner rolls was sounding like a great plan. The main course was fried quail, and I was excited to see...

3. One of the variations suggested by Peter Reinhart is for bacon casatiello. I've had a love affair with Benton's bacon (that began with a wonderful creamed corn that I made for last year's book group summer dinner) and was excited to experiment with it inside of homemade bread..

I figured that bacon and cheese dinner rolls would be a great complement to the dinner menu: fried quail, tomato pie, and spinach salad (brownies and ice cream for dessert).

n.o.e.'s notes:

- The word Casatiello is singular, and is used for one loaf. I know that the plural is Casatielli, for more than one loaf. My guess is that a bunch of tiny breads would be Casatiellini, but if you know Italian let me know in the comments if I'm right or wrong!

- Unlike many of the breads in the BBA book, which require an overnight rest, this bread is made with a quick 1 hour pre-ferment. I mixed buttermilk into my "sponge". It got very bubbly very quickly, but at that point life intervened and it was much longer than an hour by the time I got back to it. The sponge had separated and I wasn't sure how it would do, but I just gave it a good stir before mixing with the other ingredients and it was fine.

- The food processor did a great job of mixing the dough (dry ingredients first then add sponge/wet.

- Instead of 2 chicken eggs, I used one huge duck egg plus a bit of egg white from the fridge.

- The Benton bacon has a pretty smoky, intense bacon flavor. I didn't want to overpower the rolls, and finally settled on 4 oz of uncooked bacon, which I keep in the freezer already chopped into lardons. I cooked it slowly for fat to render, and it ended up slightly less than 2 oz when cooked.

- For fat/liquid, here's what I added:
2 oz butter
2 oz bacon grease
2 oz skim milk (I had fun listing that as an ingredient!)

- For the cheese, I chopped very small dice of the following:
2 oz Västerbotten cheese
4 oz le Gruyere.

- I formed the rolls into balls and baked them in muffin tins. I got a little lazy with my math, so ended up with 2 sizes: twelve at 2.5 oz each, and six at 1.75 oz. You can see the difference in the picture just above.

- All the rising times were much faster in my kitchen.

the verdict:

These rolls were perfect! They had a lovely soft moist crumb with little melted cheese pockets and a smoky bacon flavor. I think they would make a great breakfast or brunch bread, with scrambled eggs. I'll definitely make these again!

Update: I'm sending these to Yeastspotting, a weekly roundup of all things yeast-y. Check it out each Friday!

See the melted cheese over to the left edge? And the crumb on these rolls was outstanding.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

BBA Slow & Steady #4: Brioche Roundup

The next bread in the Bread Baker's Bread Baker's Apprentice is Brioche. Peter Reinhart gives a choice of three versions: Rich Man's, Middle Class, and Poor Man's, the main difference being the amount of butter. Well, none of our Slow and Steady group of bakers was feeling too impecunious, as we all managed at least the Middle Class, if not the Rich Man's (or, in Kayte's case, all three!). Hey, even though times are tough at least our bread can be rich, right?


of A Singleton in the Kitchen hummed the Hall & Oates song "Rich Girl" as she whipped up beautiful brioche a tetes (pictured up top) from the Rich Man's version of the recipe. She decided they had a similar taste to croissants, only better than the best croissants she's ever had - that's a ringing endorsement, if you ask me! Her post: BBA SOS: Rich Man's Brioche


Sarah of Blue Ridge Baker found the Middle Class Brioche "fun and easy" - she kept it natural by replacing the sugar with agave. The results were so good, Sarah is sure she'll make brioche again. Read about it on her post: BBA Challenge: Brioche.


Audrey of Food From Books was fascinated to see that the very heavy buttery dough of the Middle Class Brioche turned into a delicate (and buttery) bread. Audrey's a bit of an old hand in the brioche department; in her view this recipe stacks up favorably to previous brioche loaves she has made. Check out her post, Bread Baker's Apprentice #4: Brioche, and read this week's lessons learned.


Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table made all three types of brioche, in loaf form so that she could compare and contrast with accuracy. Read her post: BBA Challenge: Brioche to see her great side-by-side comparison of the appearance and taste of each. I think they all look pretty amazing!


Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook calls her post "Fun with brioche" and Di really did have fun with making her brioche into a stunning coffeecake, with cream cheese filling and raspberry fruit butter. Great job, Di!


Melissa of From Laptop to Stovetop turned her brioche - the middle class variation - into delicious and versatile buns, which she's been doling out from her freezer. Now there's a girl after my own heart - gotta love the power of the freezer! Read her post to see more of those lovely little brioche babies: Brioche - Middle Class Buns


My post, Brioche a Tete and Cinnamon Rum Raisin Snails, shows two very different end products that I baked with my middle class brioche dough. I enjoyed working with the dough, and the cinnamon rolls certainly smelled divine.

[Edit 7/12/09:

Cathy of The Tortefeasor took this opportunity to not just bake mini brioche loaves but to make her cinnamon buns from half of the dough. She is another brioche-making veteran, and will continue mixing up brioche to use as the base for sweet rolls and sticky buns. Here's her post: BBA: Brioche]

When our other Slow and Steady subgroup member, Natalia of Gatti Fili e Farina posts, I will update this post to include her brioche link.


The next challenge bread in The Bread Baker's Apprentice is "Casatiello" - we're finally reaching the "C" section of the book! Check out our individual blogs around July 12 and 13 for some beautiful and tasty bread, and the following week I hope to have the roundup posted.