Prosciutto Ring

Prosciutto Ring

January 1, 2015

This bread is as delicious as the Foccacia, the Pannetone, and the Cherry pie. The perfume of the prosciutto against the fullness of the spicy black pepper, offset by the salty cure, made me crave a bottle of cold, crisp, red wine. It’s chewy center and soft crust are unpretentious and left me feeling happy for my efforts and happy that I enjoy baking bread. It’s satisfying down to my deepest places. I can’t wait for Rick to come home and have a hunk.

BTW, I adored Rose’s picture of the Prosciutto Ring in the Bread Bible, so I shot a version of it for this post. Hers is a very beautiful and elegant shot. Before I dive into the tutorial, I want to share a story that might appear irrelevant at first, but will quickly connect to this recipe.

I’ve spent my whole life shopping with my mother–shopping for beautiful things that we believed were necessary for making our lives more beautiful. Now, Rick comes from a place where a bowl and a plate, a fork and a spoon makes a hearth a home. One bowl is all you need for your morning cereal (unless the cereal box is better suited), or for a salad and/or his spaghetti.

The first time that Rick met my mother, she suggested we hit an outlet mall about 30 minutes outside our driveway. Rick being an affable guy, cheerily agreed. Mom took us to Oneida Silver (I think) and points out a very contemporary bowl that is made of ½ inch thick smooth crystal. It was insanely cheap. So I put it in my arms (it was heavy) and made it mine. At the time, I had nowhere to live nor did I have a job, but I needed this beautiful bowl for my future home.

Rick looked at me with great concern, and later explained, he wasn’t sure why I’d waste money on such an impractical bowl and expressed doubt that he could keep me in the style I was accustomed to. I laughed, as I’m desperately insensitive and said: “Sweetheart. Don’t worry about it. It’s just a bowl and we can never have enough.” You see, he had no idea that me and my mom drove long distances to see bowls and to buy them whenever we could justify it. Maybe it’s a female thing, a genetic metaphor or something. Rick has his favourite popcorn bowl, his favourite bowl for grapes, and his favourite bowl for watermelon. Just saying.

So when Rick and I last visited my mother she said: “Oh! I’ve been meaning to give you something. Rick, will you get down there? It’s quite heavy.” On his knees and with a strong back, he heaves out a bowl larger than I had ever seen. My mom says: “it’s a Bread Bowl! I shopped long and hard for it long time ago, but I never used it. Do you want it?” Rick immediately declined, explaining that we had no more room for such a thing and would have no use for it. I walked over to it bedazzled and lustful. I too was concerned that it was too big for my space, and that I might not ever use it, but I took it anyway. Maybe I could put my knitting in it, or the cat can sleep in it, or something.

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Instructions

INSTRUCTIONS

MIX THE BREAD DOUGH

  • First of all this bread bowl weighs almost 11 pounds.
It weighs 10 pounds, 14 ounces.
It weighs 10 pounds, 14 ounces.
  • And, 2 cups of flour in it looks like nothing more than a handful.
Just a handful of flour.
Just a handful of flour.

I went to the King Arthur Flour store last weekend. So much fun!I went to the King Arthur Flour store last weekend. So much fun!

    • I mixed the dry ingredients except for the salt, and when the dough was ready (after the water and salt.)

 

 

Bread dough just mixed.
Bread dough just mixed.
  • I chose to knead the dough inside the bowl, since I had plenty of room. Let’s put this monster to the test.

KNEADING THE BREAD DOUGH

  • I have to say, I thought the bowl would be a bulky nuisance, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It turns out to be surprisingly ergonomic. Being so wide, I wrapped my arm around the bowl and leaned into it for leverage, then I kneaded the dough with the other hand. Every once in a while, I switched sides. It felt so natural and instinctive to use. I believed I had a new understanding of the pioneer woman in her long skirt leaning over her bread bowl, the one that was given to her by her mother.

The dough before 10 minutes of kneading.The dough before 10 minutes of kneading.

    • I set the timer for 10 minutes and worked the dough until the timer went off. I actually lost track of time. It was exactly as Rose said, a little tacky, but not sticky.

 

 

The dough after 10 minutes of kneading.
The dough after 10 minutes of kneading.
  • Then I kneaded in the prosciutto, but because I was doing it by hand, I took my time to ensure it wasn’t clumping and was well distributed throughout the dough.
With the prosciutto.
With the prosciutto.
  • Then I let it rest.
Preparing the dough for resting.
Preparing the dough for resting.

SHAPING THE BREAD DOUGH

  • After 20 minutes, I took the dough out of the bowl and began to shape it. It was soft, malleable, and cooperative. All I had to do was push it into shape.
I loved this part. The dough was so cooperative.
I loved this part. The dough was so cooperative.

GLAZE AND BAKE THE BREAD

  • I wanted to use my pizza peel to get the dough in and out of the oven, so I turned a baking tray upside down and set a piece of parchment on it. This way, I could slide the sheet onto the peel without disrupting the risen dough.
This shows the dough rising on the back side of a baking tray.
This shows the dough rising on the back side of a baking tray.
The dough on the peel ready for the oven.
The dough on the peel ready for the oven.
  • In went the ring, then the ice cubes and set the timer for 20 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, the bread had browned quite a bit and the temperature had reached about 200F. This was baking way too fast. So I turned down the oven to 400F and set it back in until the internal temp came to about 211F, another 12 minutes or so.
See the King Arthur towel? I spent so much money, they gave it to me for free!
See the King Arthur towel? I spent so much money, they gave it to me for free!
  • After about an hour, I tore into the bread. The crumb was beautiful, and I felt proud. The bread bowl became an important tool for me and not just another acquisition.
The crumb was beautiful. It was more mellow on day two. Prosciutto Ring, The Finer Cookie.
The crumb was beautiful. It was more mellow on day two. Prosciutto Ring, The Finer Cookie.
  • WHAT ARE THE ALPHA BAKERS? : Here’s how it works: once a month, for the next two years, 25 Alpha Bakers commit to baking their way through every recipe of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. Each month we post our experiences on our blog sites: our successes, our failures, our likes and dislikes. The recipes are scheduled in advance so that everyone is baking the same recipe at the same time. No recipes can be shared in my Alpha Bakers Bread Bible posts due to publishing restrictions enforced by the publisher, but if you love to bake bread, this is a must-have book. You can see other tutorials for the same recipe at the following link The Bread Bible Alpha Bakers at http://breadbiblealphabakers.blogspot.ca/

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