I just made a couple more loaves of this, substituting hard salami for the capicola and steak bacon for the prosciutto. I did keep the original pepperoni. These meats make for a much better and more reasonably-priced product. Maybe you can call it salami and provolone bread.
If you can’t find steak bacon at your butcher, you could just use chunks of pork belly–it’s pretty much the same thing. Just make sure to pre-cook and cool the bacon or pork belly before adding it to the dough.
One last thing: when the bread has cooled after baking, it must be refrigerated because of all the meat and cheese in it.
Here’s a delicious recipe closely based on one from Cooks Country/Cooks Illustrated. Please note that this recipe yields two loaves.
This was actually fairly quick and easy to make, but note that if you use the Italian meats in the ingredient list, you’re going to spend about $30 on meat alone. I went to our local Italian deli to get the needed ingredients, and was disappointed to find that most of the meats were $35-$45 per pound—pretty overpriced. I walked out of there with less than a pound of ingredients and my wallet a lot lighter.
Here’s the thing, the recipe calls for chunks of meat, rather than slices of meat, which makes sense, given how it’s supposed to turn out. None of our local grocery stores had any of the cheese/meat ingredients in non-sliced form, so I went to a real Italian deli. After that fact, my recommendation is to 1) skip going to the most overpriced Italian deli in town just to get capicola and 2) substitute prosciutto and capicola with other, more reasonably-priced Italian meats, such as salami, etc. This way, you could make both loaves for about $20, rather than the $40+ that I spent. Of course, it would no longer be “prosciutto” bread. Frankly, the capicola actually sucked, as it was overly-salty; the bread would have been much better without it. Maybe the type I bought was just low quality or something.
With all that said, the recipe, itself, is really very good, with the exception of the capicola. Substitute that out, and you’ll be set.
What you’ll need:
- 3 cups (16.5 oz.) bread flour—I recommend weighing, not measuring
- 1.5t instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1t salt
- 1 cup mild beer, room temperature (Budweiser is fine)
- 6T water, room temperature
- 3T extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 oz. (0.25-inch-thick) provolone cheese, cut into 0.5-inch pieces
- 3 oz. (0.25-inch-thick) sliced prosciutto, cut into 0.5-inch pieces
- 3 oz. (0.25-inch-thick) sliced pepperoni, cut into 0.5-inch pieces
- 3 oz. (0.25-inch-thick) sliced capicola, cut into 0.5-inch pieces
- 1t coarsely ground pepper
What to do:
Whisk together the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of stand mixer, then whisk together the beer, water and oil together in a separate vessel.
Mix the flour mixture with a dough hook on low speed while slowly adding the beer mixture until a dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, scraping down bowl as needed—about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough until it is smooth, elastic and clears sides of bowl—about 8 minutes.
At this point, return the mixer speed to low and gradually add the cut up cheese/meats and pepper. Continue to knead until combined—about 2 minutes. Now transfer the dough to a lightly-floured counter and knead by hand for a bit, collecting any pieces of meat left behind in the mixer bowl. Try to get the meat and cheese evenly distributed throughout the dough.
Form the dough into a ball and place it in a slightly greased large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size—1.5 hours.
Now you’re ready to make the two loaves. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly dust it with cornmeal. Turn out the dough to a counter and gently press down to deflate any large air pockets. Cut the ball into 2 even pieces—maybe weigh them to ensure an equal split. Press each piece of dough into an 8 x 5-inch rectangle with the long side parallel to the counter’s edge.
Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, fold the top (long) edge of the rectangle down to the midline, pressing on it to seal. Now fold the bottom (long) edge of rectangle up to midline and pinch to seal. Flip the dough over—seam-side down—and gently roll it into a 12-inch loaf with tapered ends. Transfer the loaf to 1 side of prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the second piece of dough and place that loaf about 3 inches from first loaf on the baking sheet. Cover both loaves with greased plastic and let them rise at room temperature until puffy and the dough springs back slowly when pressed lightly with your finger—about 45 minutes.
While the loaves are rising, put an oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Just before putting the loaves into the oven, slit the tops of the loaves with a paring knife—making about a 0.5-inch-deep gash the length of the loaves., stopping 1.5 inches from each end.
Bake until the bread registers 205–210 degrees—about 22–25 minutes.
When they’re done, transfer loaves to a wire rack and let them cool completely—about 3 hours.
Break pieces off to serve, as they’ll be very hard to slice because of all the meat and cheese chunks inside.