I know what you are going to say- another bread recipe. Better get used it though, because I already made 3 different breads this week and I think we have even more to come very soon. It’s that cast iron pot I bought last weekend, just to cheer myself up! But there were also other things on the way. Last Tuesday people from work organised something called ” The Laser Game”. Have you done it by any chance?? So here is the thing-imagine myself, my whole team including my boss and a few colleagues from the office chasing each other with guns in a steamy, dark sort of labyrinth room 😀 People were screaming, running away, chasing and killing mostly their own team members!! The rule is- you have 2 or 3 teams, depends on how many people are going to show up- some brought even their kinds, which was a good thing I have to say, since we simply didn’t have a clue about all these video games where you shot the Predator or the Alien or preferably both of them (however I have to quietly admit I attempted this one, but the Alien was usually killing me after like 60 seconds or so, and I still remember the screen of my computer displaying “Oh Marta just got killed, Marta just got killed…so no more games). Anyway, they give you a sort of vest with your name on it- you have to pick a nickname- I was Sarah Connor, but next time I will definitively go for something more spectacular like the Green Lantern ( who doesn’t like Ryan Reynolds right?!!) or Kill Bill! You’ve got points for each shot- positive if you “killed”someone from the other team, and the negative ones for shooting to your own team. Also, the more times you get shot, the more negative points you get. Once you fire your gun, for 8 seconds it gets blocked- the same for the one who got shot or who “killed” you. You might think all this sounds perfectly clear and there is a logic behind it and so on. Well, not for people working in finance…enough to say, some of the game participants were following their “victims” even if their gun was blocked, so once it was loaded up they could shoot right in the victim’s back again… No comments. I think I don’t work in finance long enough…Another thing, some people were just hiding in the dark corners and they were waiting patiently until the more naive ones would approach them too closely- does all this sound familiar to you when you think about the general banking/finance practices??? The positive thing about that evening was, that I woke up the next morning all pumped up and full of energy (on the second thought, maybe I do work in finance long enough awww!) and I decided to try THIS BREAD.
I was looking at this recipe for some time now, and was not sure whether it would work out or not. But let me tell you, this bread is beautiful and very special. I know, it looks a bit unusual, and the taste is very strong, it’s full of cheese in the end. But, if you have it with some good quality ham, or even avocado and a glass of red wine it will make your evening for sure. In this instance I used again the Dutch oven method, also please remember that my cast iron pot has 24 cm of diameter. If you have the 22cm one, this bread will not be as flat as mine. I modified the original recipe- it’s Jim Lahey and his book- by adding some pancetta. If you’re vegetarian however, feel free to add some walnuts, sun dried cherry tomatoes or herbs. Also please remember that the cheese has to be hard, otherwise it will melt in. I thought pecorino was a good idea, but parmigiano is also good and I added a few pieces of parmigiano too. This bread requires about 12-16 hours for the dough to “rest”- it’s “no kneading” method, but I did it to be honest, as I thought the ingredients should be combined properly.
Makes 1 loaf of bread, preparation time- I figured that the best way to do it- you set the dough early in the morning, around 7.30- it takes really 10-15 min, when back home wait until 8 p.m.- then another hour or so and the bread goes to the oven- 20 min with the lid on, another 15-20 min with no lid on, the oven temperature- 230/240 C
- 400 g of flour- any type, however I used 200 g of dark, whole grain flour, have also another 150 g for later when the dough is ready
- 200 g of cheese- pecorino, parmigiano, in my case- chop the cheese in small cubes
- 2 slices of pancetta- in case you’re vegetarian replace it with sun dried cherry tomatoes, walnuts, herbs of your choice
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 3/4 teaspoon of instant yeast
- 300 ml of warm water
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
All ingredients combine well in a big bowl, leave aside for 12-16 hours in a warm and quiet place. When the dough is ready, knead it for a few minutes ( I did it anyway just to be sure), form a loaf of bread and place it on a floured table cloth. Place in a plastic bowl of similar size and leave it for another 30-60 min.
In the meantime preheat the oven- for me it takes about 30-35 min- set the temperature for 230-240 C and place the cast iron pot with the lid on inside. After this time, take it out, place the dough inside the pot, and place it again in the oven, for about 20 min. If you remember my Bread with herbs recipe, I added some ice cubes to make the crust more crunchy. You need to place another baking sheet underneath the pot and add some ice cubes- I usually add around 12 of those, and after 15 min just pour a glass of water. After 20 min take the lid off and bake the bread for another 15-20 min.
You might think the dough looks a bit strange- it’s the cheese that makes it looking so, but don’t worry. Once the bread is ready it will be nicely roundy, crunchy and the aroma is amazing. I hope you are going to enjoy it 🙂