Cucina Povera – Italian cuisine embraces ‘waste not, want not’. Probably the precursor to ‘nose-to-tail’ cooking and eating. A way of life, with delicious results. As most things Italian are.
And this stuffed bread, a perfect addition to the picnic basket is no exception. A stuffed ring of baked dough, filled with humble and simple ingredients that all nonnas and mammas would have to hand in the days by gone.
Cheese and salumi, all bear-hugged in yeasted bread dough.
Traditionally made at Easter, Casatiello Napoletano is rustic and savoury. When made any other time of year, it goes by the appellation Tortano, which doesn’t have boiled eggs on the ingredients list, unlike CN. So I’ve gone for CN, even if its not Easter. Thinking of which, does it really matter?
Take the cheese - provolone dolce, a mild pasta filata (pulled cheese). And imagine mozzarella but with wings. Soft, lightly salted and creamy with a buttery flavour. And originally the cheese of the poor as a little piece gave a lot of flavour.
Whatever you do, make it a day ahead - it tastes better.
- Makes 1 loaf
- Casatiello Napoletano - Stuffed Italian Bread
1 quantity bread dough
150g provolone dolce, cubed
50g pecorino, freshly grated
125g ham, chopped (I used york ham)
250g bacon bits, pan fried (but not till crisp)
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
50 - 75g pitted black olives, sliced into rings
2 finely crushed whole dried red chillies
1/2 a teaspoon dried oregano
Sprinkly of freshly crushed black pepper
- Bread Dough
350ml lukewarm water
15g fresh yeast
1 tablespoon caster sugar
400g strong white bread flour
100g semolina (or strong white bread flour)
½ - 1 teaspoon fine seasalt
Extra flour, for dusting
- MAKE THE BREAD DOUGH: In a bowl, combine the water, fresh yeast and sugar, stirring/mixing till the yeast is dissolved. Combine the flours with the salt then using a dough whisk or a wooden spoon, gently add the bread-salt mix to the yeasty water, stirring till the flour is all used up. Carefully shape the dough into a ball and place in bowl. Gently oil the top of the dough and cover lightly, or with greased clingfilm (oiled side down). Allow dough rise for a couple of hours, then gently turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Alternatively, place dough in the fridge and use later. If using after refrigeration, allow dough rest out of the fridge for 10 - 20 minutes before use
- MIX THE FILLING: In a bowl, combine the provolone, pecorino, ham, bacon, boiled eggs, olives and crushed dried chillies and oregano.
- MAKE CASATIELLO NAPOLETANO:Oil a large bundt pan/angel food tin with some olive oil. Then lightly flour a surface and roll out the dough into a rectangle 1/2 cm thick. Place the filling in the centre of the rectangle, lengthways and sprinkle some black pepper over to the top.
- You will need to roll the dough into a sausage or cigar so pull one side in over the top, holding both ends of the dough and bringing in. Then grab the centre of the other side (and not the ends) and bring over the top to seal (and form a crown). Pinch the ends to seal and bring them together to form a coil.
- Gently lift dough and place in greased bundt pan. If you don't have one, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until risen.
- While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 230° C. Brush the casatiello with olive oil and bake it for 10 minutes at 230 °C, then lower the temperature to 200 °C and cook for another 30-40 minutes. The casatiello should be cooked through and golden, though testing it will be toguh as the melted cheesy centre won't give the dry response you seek.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool down for about 10 minutes in the pan. Then remove and let cool on a rack. When cold, tuck in and enjoy some soft, warm melted cheese. If like me, midnight saw this fresh out of the oven with work the following day, allow it to rest overnight in a paper (not plastic) bag, or wrapped with paper.
- On the day, pack your basket. Place the bread in an oven on 180°C and let warm through. Then grab some pesto or chimichurri...if you wish, maybe jars of green salad, wine glasses and a bottle of prosecco with flowers in your hair.