Author Notes: I can't remember a Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Easter holiday meal without this bread on our table. This recipe is inspired by one my Italian great-grandmother used to make. Over the years, my grandmother, mother, and myself have all made this dish and we have put our own individual stamp upon it. We would often eat this celebratory bread for dinner, but I think it is at its best on the breakfast table. My dad used to say that this was a complete breakfast on its own since it contains bread, eggs, cheese, and sausage! I love this bead toasted and buttered with hot coffee or espresso, but it is also awfully nice served with a poached egg on top and maybe some buttered grits or fried potatoes on the side. - cookinginvictoria
Makes 1 big loaf (easily serves 6-8 people with leftovers)
Making the bread
- 2 loaves Italian bread (or pizza) dough, unthawed (you can buy this frozen in a specialty Italian food store or large grocery store or you can make your own dough -- see below for my recipe -- or you can use your own favorite pizza or Italian bread dough re
- 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed and cut into 2 inch pieces (about 4 links)
- 1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed and cut into 2 inch pieces (about 4 links)
- 4 large eggs, divided
- 3/4 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
- Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, fry sausage until browned, turning occasionally. Drain on paper towels, reserving pan drippings. When sausage has cooled, cut it into smaller pieces (about 1/2 inch each).
- In large bowl, beat 3 eggs with whisk until well blended. Add cheese and herbs and crushed red pepper flakes, if desired. Stir in sausage.
- Spray bottom and sides of a 9-by-13 inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Line sides and bottom of pan with parchment paper, cut to fit. (Do not omit this step or bread may very well stick to pan, especially if any filling oozes out.)
- Flour your hands and very carefully stretch one loaf of bread dough until it is covering the bottom of the baking pan and excess dough is hanging over the sides of the pan. If dough rips, just wet your fingertips with warm water and patch holes.
- Pour sausage/egg filling onto bread dough. Cover with other loaf of dough, stretching to fit over the sides of the pan. Pull the edges of the bottom dough up and over the edges of the top dough, pressing together with your fingertips to seal. (It helps to moisten your fingertips slightly with some warm water when you do this.)
- Let rise 20 minutes before baking. Beat remaining egg in small bowl with whisk until blended. Brush beaten egg over top of dough with pastry brush. Bake 45 minutes to one hour or until bread is golden brown. (If bread seems to be browning too quickly, lower oven temperature and tent bread in oven with aluminum foil.)
- Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before removing the bread from the pan. Pour some of the reserved sausage drippings (1-2 tablespoons) over top of loaf, using pasty brush to spread over the loaf. Let completely cool before serving. See intro note for serving suggestions.
- This bread freezes well. After it is cool, wrap well in aluminum foil, then place in ziploc bag before placing in freezer. Bread will keep for 1-2 months in freezer.
Italian bread dough (if making from scratch)
- 20 ounces all-purpose flour, reserved
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 12 ounces very warm water (125 to 130 degrees)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- In large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. (Place yeast and salt in opposite sides of bowl.) Add oil and water into dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Slowly add remaining flour to make soft dough.
- Knead dough on lightly floured surface, until smooth and elastic. (Or you can knead dough in standing mixer with dough hook attachment.)
- Place dough in lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in warm room (65 to 75 degrees) until dough has risen (about 45 minutes to an hour). Divide dough in half and proceed with recipe above.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Holiday Breakfast II
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Holiday Breakfast