The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

BBA Challenge 2011: Week Five - Italian Casatiello

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BBA Challenge 2011: Week Five - Italian Casatiello

It's week five of our BBA Challenge 2011 over at Please feel free to come check out what we're doing! I've reproduced the start of the post below, and here's the title pic I used.

-- Chris

You can go right to the post for Casatiello here

We’ve been snowed in out here in southwestern Missouri by the latest big storm (the snomageddon as some called it). Each of the four of us head off to different schools (as students or teachers) in the morning and for the last few days, all of our respective schools (kids’ and adults’) have been closed due to weather. Since I’ve been stuck indoors, I figured I might as well get an early start on this week’s challenge, casatiello – the Italian version of French brioche. People who follow this blog regularly know that I’ve already taken on the casatiello challenge before, back in December of last year. That time, I followed Carol Field’s recipe, whereas this time I followed Reinhart’s. In fact, Reinhart gives Field a shout-out when writing up his own formula, which is apparently his own alteration of Field’s version. I’ve made this particular bread quite a few times, each time tweaking Field’s recipe myself. As a result, I didn’t think this week would be particularly difficult or out of my baking comfort zone. As it turns out, it wasn’t. Admittedly, although I’m a big fan of Carol Field’s (before Reinhart’s book I had exclusively worked from her book, the Italian Baker for the past year), I didn’t love her casatiello. For a lot of reasons (that I explain below) I should have loved her recipe, but in the end I was only a marginal fan (which explains all the tweaking – I was trying to get it to come out in a way I would like). So when I saw that this week’s challenge was casatiello, I wasn’t terribly excited, as I figured I’d be a so-so fan yet again. However, in the end I liked Reinhart’s version much better than Field’s. His version improves on her recipe by toning down all of the aspects of Field’s casatiello that are, in my opinion, too excessive. The result is a smooth tasting, delicately crusted, moist and gently crumbed delight — with just a hint of richness from the butter and egg ingredients and just the right amount of extra taste coming from the sauteed pepperoni and the sharp provolone. I made this to go along with a basil-heavy marinara sauce, and I must admit I felt a bit decadent using the casatiello to sop up the extra sauce on my plate, but it went together so well I excused myself the non-virtuous excess.