Since I first tried it, I’ve always really liked caprese salad and variations on it. The simple combination of basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella just can’t be beat. A salad doesn’t make a very good sandwich, or nice rolls though. So, with that in mind, I set about making an expression of caprese in bread form. Fresh grape tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh perle mozzarella, olive oil and just a little bit of black pepper (if you like pepper in it). I was a bit concerned about the fresh mozzarella, as it tends to put out a fair amount of water when melting, but it turned out just fine. The mozzarella does leave rather interesting holes in the bread as it melts though! I wasn’t worried about the tomatoes adding water to the bread because they went in whole, and were only partially roasted in the finished bread. This bread was really good for oven toasted sandwiches, very fragrant and flavorful. I think in the future I’m going to make smaller loaves, about 2 times the size of regular dinner rolls. Would be perfect hot out of the oven at that size.
Pane alla Caprese
Makes: 2 medium, or 3 small loaves
Time: Day 1: Elaborate starter. Day 2: Mix final dough, fold dough shape, proof, and bake.
|Bread Flour||8 oz||230 g||100%|
|Water||5.25 oz||150 g||67%|
|66% Levain||3 oz||85 g||38%|
|Starter||16.25 oz||460.7 g||87.8%|
|Bread Flour||14.5 oz||411 g||78.4%|
|Semolina||4 oz||113.4 g||21.6%|
|Water||13.35 oz||378.5 g||72.2%|
|Perle Mozzarella||8 oz||226.8 g||43.2%|
|Grape Tomatoes||9 oz||255.2 g||48.6%|
|Shredded Fresh Basil||5 oz||141.8 g||27%|
|Salt||.25 oz||7 g||1.35%|
|Olive Oil||1 oz||28.4 g||5.4%|
|71.35 oz||2022.8 g||385.7%|
- Elaborate your starter however you choose, but ending up with the same flour and water weights. (or make a commercial yeast preferment) Allow it to rise overnight.
- The next day cream the starter with the water for the recipe, then add in the oil. Also, take the mozzarella balls out of the liquid they come packed in and pat them dry with paper towels.
- Mix together the flours and salt, then mix in the starter, water, shredded basil and oil til the dough just starts to come together as a ball. Let the dough sit covered in the bowl for 20 minutes
- Lightly dust your counter or work space with flour and scrape the dough out. With lightly floured hands, give the dough a stretch and fold and then flatten it out into a rectangle. Spread as much of the grape tomatoes and mozzarella as possible over the top of the dough, then give it a fold or two to incorporate them. Once those are incorporated, work the dough a bit more if needed and add the rest of the tomatoes and mozzarella..
- Leave the bowl covered for 40 minutes to an hour, turn the dough out (seam side up) and give it another stretch and fold, then return it to the bowl. You can also give the dough one final stretch and fold after about 40 minutes.
- Let the dough rise until nearly doubled, and turn it out again onto your work surface.
- Prepare well floured brotforms, or flour a towel you can use for the final proofing of the bread. Treating the dough gently, seperate it into however many pieces you want loaves. Either shape the loaves into boules, batards, or do a letter fold and stretch them tight for brotforms. Place the shaped loaves in brotforms or on the towels (seam side up)
- Leave the loaves, covered, to proof, for me this was about an hour and a half.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with your baking stone (on the middle rack) and steam pan inside and heat 2 cups of water to just shy of boiling.
- Very gently grab loaves rising on a towel, and move them to a peel with flour, cornmeal, or parchment paper. If using brotforms, just invert the loaves onto parchment or a peel. Just before you load the loaves into the oven give them a few shallow slashes. Load the loaves into the oven and carefully pour the hot water into the steam pan. Be careful of the window and light bulbs in your oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes, turn loaves 180 degrees and remove parchment paper if using. Continue baking for another 10-25 minutes, the loaves should sound hollow on the bottom when complete. Remove finished loaves to a cooling rack and let sit for at least 1 hour before cutting.
As I mentioned above, I think this bread would be really good for slightly larger than average rolls because it was just wonderful hot out of the oven. And it really was great for sandwiches, it already had so much flavor in it that I didn’t need to do much except add something in the middle and toast it! The way the baking changes the flavor of the tomatoes is just perfect, they stay juicy, but they get a nice concentration of their flavor.
Well, this is the YeastSpotting submission for this week, something a bit different than all the fruit and nut breads I’ve been doing recently. But don’t worry, there are more of those to come 😉