Monday, August 11, 2008

Peppercorn and Prosciutto Bread

My husband and I have a particular affinity for black pepper. For instance, we find it absolutely necessary to put it on popcorn, peanuts, toasted bread with butter and we love plain whole wheat pasta with a bit of butter, a dash of white truffle oil and a great grinding of black pepper and a sprinkle of Maldon salt...mmm...

Focus! Lunch later, posting now. Back to the point, this weekend I made my first attempt at replicating the most delicious bread we have ever had out side of my kitchen: black peppercorn and prosciutto.

The version made elsewhere was made with all purpose bleached flour, but I can't seem to stop trying to make things healthier, so I switched that for whole grain white. I feel the need to explain this because it effected the overall texture and weight of the bread, but was to be expected. The original bread has prosciutto chunks and crushed black pepper corn throughout. I tried to take a short cut and simply grind the pepper, but the effect was not the same, next time I will crush it instead. My end result was also thicker than the original, but I had to start somewhere.

I used a simplified French baguette recipe. This simplified version of a classic uses sugar to speed along the rising process thusly cutting the rise time in thirds. Next time I will not do this, it sacrificed too much in flavor and really what is another 2 1/2 hours of waiting?

Peppercorn and Prosciutto Bread

2 1/4 Teaspoons Dry Yeast
1 Teaspoon Evaporated Cane Sugar
2 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
1 1/2 Cups Water
4-4 1/2 Cups White Whole Wheat Flour

1/2 Cup Prosciutto cut into chunks
3 Teaspoons crushed black peppercorns

I began an autolyse with 4 cups of the flour and 1 1/4 cups of the water. I let this sit, covered, for 30 minutes. About 10 minutes before this process has completed combine, in a small bowl, the yeast and sugar. Add to this the remaining 1/4 cup water; be certain that this water is warm and not hot. Allow this mixture to sit and bubble until your dough is ready to continue mixing.

After the 30 minute rest add the salt and the yeast/sugar mixture to the dough. Mix until combined. Sprinkle your work surface with the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and knead for about 10 minuted or until smooth. Form dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl for rising. Allow the bread to rise for 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough and knead for about 3-5 minutes. Divide the dough into equal halves. Create a disk with each half of the dough. This is the point at which you are going to add the prosciutto and peppercorn; spread each of the disks with half each of your additives. Begin to form your loaves by rolling the dough into a tight tube, creating a swirl of your ingredients inside. Be certain to seal the seam o n the bottom, if you need to you can dampen the edge with water to do this, it must be sealed or it will unroll as is bakes.

Once your seam is sealed roll out the dough into a longer snake like shape, think playdoh snakes. Once both laves have been formed place them a baking sheet, or baguette pan to rise and rest for 20 minutes. At the end of the 20 minutes you will place them into a 457-500F oven; while the oven is heating up place a pan of watter at the bottom. Just before placing them into the oven slice the tops diagonally at two inch intervals.

Allow the loaves to bake with the pan of water for 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes remove the pan of water and allow the loaves to bake another 10 minutes. Ta-Da...beautiful loaves of bread!

As you can see this process is none too quick so next time, and there will be a next time, I will do it right and leave out the sugar. If you elect to give this a shot before I do: up the yeast to 1 Tablespoon and the water to 2 cups of warm.

The end result was a beautiful loaf of bread that was yummy, if not exactly as we envisioned it. It tasted more wheaty, of course, and was more chewy than the original version. Next time I might make the recipe into 3 or 4 loaves that are thinner and will definitely add more pepper, crushed instead of ground. All in all I am happy with the bread and will give this another go, maybe next weekend.


Omie said...

I love this bread. Thanks! The flavor of the peppercorns infused throughout the bread making each bite deliciously delectable.

. said...

Thanks, I think it is worth the work and the waiting.