BBA Challenge (Week 5): Casatiello

Bread Baking, Food

bba-soon

When I signed on with Nicole to do the Bread Bakers Apprentice Challenge I had no idea what I was getting into. I thought, I’ll bake some ciabatta, I’ll do a little Twittering and maybe make a bloggy bread baker friend or two.

Fast forward to five – is it really only five??? – weeks later and you might find me where I was on Tuesday night: up to my elbows in bread flour with stray remnants of coarse cornmeal underfoot.

If I had known how much proofing, rising and fermenting would be ahead of me when I joined the challenge I might have second guessed my decision.

For those who are new here, I am baking my way through Peter Reinhart’s book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice of with about 200 other bloggers around the globe.

We started with Anadama Bread and though we aren’t posting each recipe, we’re baking each bread in the book, in order.

I’ve been baking roughly once per week, which might not sound like a lot until you factor in a few other things.

Like, OH I DON’T KNOW, a full-time job, a forty-minute commute, SLEEP, this blog, a social life….you know, all expendable.

The first thing I’ve learned about baking bread is that it’s a delicate process.

The mixing, kneading and shaping are all painstakingly worth the hours each step might take to complete.

Many of the breads in Reinhart’s book take more than a day from start to finish and when you’re away from home for twelve hours on the average day, well, that makes it tricky to time each step perfectly.

This past week, we baked a specialty Italian bread called Casatiello that was, if nothing else, a pleasant change from the previous four breads.

With no overnight step, you can bake this in a day and have a wonderful, rich bread to serve with dinner. Casatiello is often referred to as Italian Brioche, a rich dough made with eggs and milk, peppered with cured meat and sharp cheese.

The recipe calls for salami or crisp bacon but I had neither on hand so I made do with roasted red peppers and a block of sharp provolone.

The “vegetarian” version of this bread might not have tasted quite the same as the prescribed recipe, but it was moist and flavorful – everything a bread should be.

This bread was fairly simple to complete – fast rising and had a great consistency.

With some of the breads I’ve baked, I’ve found myself spending more time than I care to admit peering into the bowl of my Kitchen Aid and manipulating the dough into a ball on the dough hook.

I’m thinking that by the time I get to Cinnamon Sticky Buns, I’ll forget about all of these hard times.

Tell me about a kitchen challenge you’ve faced lately. Is it bread baking? Grilling? What is something you didn’t think you could master but now execute with elegance?

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)
    June 18, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Bread baking is one of the most satisfying tasks in the kitchen — joy and therapy all in one. What you’ve learned already is just the beginning.

  • Reply
    Ashley
    June 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

    I admire your attempt of all these breads, I would have given up 5 weeks ago! That bread looks delicious.
    I’ve been getting a little more daring at cooking but no where near your level. I think the hardest thing I had to make was the chili suizas bake with all the damn peppers that I managed to get in my eyes somehow. (i made the suizas sauce from scratch instead of from a jar)

  • Reply
    Culinary Wannabe
    June 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

    My hat is totally off to you gf! Making bread at home is certainly time consuming (not to mention messy!). But it’s also so “homey” feeling. There’s something so comforting about the smell of fresh baked bread. Hang in there, I’m sure a social life is just a small sacrifice (ha!), or enlist some help from your talented friends. 🙂

  • Reply
    kat
    June 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

    oh that sounds so awesome. I think all of you who are doing this are just amazing. I think making handmade cheese has been our latest challenge

  • Reply
    Jamie
    June 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Your bread is simply perfect! The texture looks so light and fluffy and I’ll bet it tasted wonderful!
    I have been wondering for ages how in the world people like you function – full time job, blog, all the cooking and baking for the blog plus all the challenges you do and on time! I am amazed! Thinking about it makes me dizzy! But great job!

  • Reply
    ANG*
    June 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

    you and your bread-making. to say i’m impressed is quite an under statement.

  • Reply
    Sues
    June 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Well, it certainly looks awesome! Mmm I can’t wait until you get to the cinnamon sticky buns!!

  • Reply
    ksgoodeats
    June 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Even though it was a tough challenge, that bread looks well worth it! Way to go!!

  • Reply
    Kate
    June 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Either way, that sounds wonderful! I love breads that are filled with extras like that- focaccia being a good example- but the Casatiello with cured meat would be heavenly.
    Every bread post you put up impresses me greatly at your level of commitment. Good for you!

  • Reply
    doggybloggy
    June 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

    good looking bread and kudos on doing the challenges – I tried daring bakers and could never manage my time right……

  • Reply
    Lara (Thinspired)
    June 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Hi Maris! Thank you so much for visiting my blog. You have a beautiful site here. Looks like you are a very talented cook. I have never attempted to make bread before, I’ve always been a bit scared of working with yeast for some reason. This looks and sounds amazing!

  • Reply
    daryl
    June 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Looks like a bread you would buy! What a talent you have!

  • Reply
    Susie
    June 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Your bread looks great. Makes me want to bake it again.
    Great job and nice baking along with you,
    Susie

  • Reply
    Pearl
    June 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

    that bread looks so delicious!

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