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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I went to the King Arthur Flour store last weekend. So much fun!
The dough before 10 minutes of kneading.