Thursday, July 22, 2010

Prosciutto Ring Bread

Prosciutto Bread
I don't know what possessed me to bake bread on a 95-degree day, but it sure was good bread.  It finished baking before I headed out the door.  Later I got a call from Joe...

J: Can I have some bread?
Me: Can't you wait? I was going to take more photos.
J: I can't eat it because you haven't finished documenting??
Me: Fine, but don't hack it apart too badly!!

Only another blogger would understand.  Anyway, a good deal of it was missing when I got home, which you can take as testament to how good it was.

Prosciutto Bread
Clockwise from top left: Prosciutto di Piccolo was the more affordable alternative to Prosciutto di Parma ($16.99/lb!), but we agreed the bread could have used more since the pieces seemed to have shrunk during baking.  I'd also consider substituting small chunks of sausage next time.  The dough looks curdly at first, then kneads out smooth.  Roll it into a ball on a floured surface, then into a rope, and finally into a ring.

Prosciutto Bread1
Clockwise from top left: The ring before rising; the ring after rising; brushing with melted butter; and using a wooden peel to ease the bread onto a baking stone.

Prosciutto Bread Piece
It's a very rustic bread, with a nice crisp crust and a sturdy but moist crumb.  Try it!

Prosciutto Ring Bread
From Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible

Bread flour or
unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups plus 3 tbs
2¼ cups plus 2 tbs
12 ounces
Malt powder or
barley malt syrup or
honey or sugar
1 tbs0.3 ounce
0.7 ounce
0.5 ounce
Instant yeast¾ tsp.
Coarsely cracked black pepperscant ½ tsp.
Salt¾ tsp.
Water, room temperature 70° to 90°F1 liquid cup8.3 ounces
Prosciutto, trimmed of excess fat,
sliced not too thin and cut into
 ¼- to ½-inch pieces
¾ cup3 ounces
Bacon fat or butter, melted4 tsp0.6 ounce

This recipe contains a food processor method, mixer method, and hand method.  I'm only typing up the mixer method, but if you really want one of the others leave me a comment with your e-mail address.  Don't be put off by the lengthy instructions.  Despite all the wording, it's really easy.

1. Mix the dough.

In the mixer bowl, whisk together the flour, malt (or honey or sugar), yeast, and black pepper.  Then whisk in the salt (this prevents the yeast from coming into direct contact with the salt, which would kill it).  With the dough hook, on low speed (#2 if using a KitchenAid), add the water and mix for about 1 minute, until the flour is moistened.  Knead the dough on medium speed (#4 KitchenAid) for 7 minutes.

Add the prosciutto and mix on low speed (#2 KitchenAid) for 1 minute or until evenly incorporated.  The dough should be very elastic and jump back when pressed with a fingertip.  It should still be a little tacky (sticky) but not cling to your fingers.  If the dough is very sticky, knead in a little flour.  If it is not sticky at all, spray it with a little water and knead it in.  (The dough will weigh about 1½ pounds/675 grams.)

Dust the dough lightly with flour and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow it to rest for 20 minutes.

2. Shape the dough and let it rise.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter, if it's not already on the counter.  Roll it into an 18-inch-long rope.  Shape it into a ring, overlapping ends by 2 inches, and press lightly to seal them; the ring will be about 7 inches in diameter and 1¼ inches high, with a 3-inch hole in the center.

Set the bread on the Silpain or parchment and cover it with a large container or oiled plastic wrap.  Allow the dough to rise (ideally at 75° to 85°F) until almost doubled, about 1 hour.  It will be almost 9 inches across by 1½ inches high, and when it is pressed gently with a fingertip, the depression will very slowly fill in.

3. Preheat the oven to 450°F 1 hour before baking.  (Is she nuts?!  I didn't care to add to my energy bill, and preheating just 10 minutes before worked fine for me.)  Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it, and a cast-iron skillet or sheet pan on the floor of the oven, before preheating.

5. Glaze and bake the bread.

Shortly before baking, brush the dough all over with the melted bacon fat or butter.  (Do not slash the dough.)  Using the Silpain liner, lift the ring onto the hot baking stone or hot baking sheet; or use a peel if it is on parchment.  Toss ½ cup of ice cubes into the pan beneath and immediately close the door.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Turn down the heat to 400°F and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes or until the bread is deep golden brown (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 211°F).  Halfway through baking, with a heavy pancake turner, lift the bread from the Silpain or parchment and set it directly on the stone, turning it around as you do so for even baking.  When the bread is baked, turn off the oven, prop the door slightly ajar, and leave the bread in the oven for 5 minutes.

5. Glaze and cool the bread.

Remove the bread from the oven, and transfer it to a wire rack.  Brush with another coat of melted bacon fat or butter, and cool completely.  The texture of this bread is most appealing when torn rather than cut.

The bread stays fresh for 2 days at room temperature.


  1. That looks great. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.

  2. I love how you formed the bread into a ring...I've yet to try that! I am in the same boat as you, I've been baking bread in a very warm, unairconditioned house, but it is just too hard to stay away!

  3. This is my kind of bread. I first tasted something like this in Italy and fell in love with it. Yours looks beautiful!

  4. Thanks, guys! And my place is air-conditioned, but that almost doesn't matter when your oven is cranked up to 450. ;)

  5. I'm with Joe. I couldn't leave it alone, either . . .

  6. Shirley, I do understand. It is just so stressful to try to take good photos of the food while warding off several people who are trying to grab it. Great bread. It dools so delicious. Bread is something I can never give up.


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