Brioche, the previous BBA Challenge bread, was just not my thing. I ate two slices and the rest languished away on the countertop until I put it out of its misery. So naturally, I was more than reluctant to begin this bread. Casatiello is simply a brioche with goodies - usually salami and cheese. Now, I am often seduced by the inclusion of pork product and/or cheese in a recipe, but I was not convinced that even this dynamic duo could rescue such an undesirable bread.
I was wrong. Boy was I wrong. I have fallen hard for this bread. The brioche itself is fluffy and flavorful without being heavy and overly buttered. In fact, I substituted bacon grease for 1/4 cup of the butter (well, I'm not making diet food here) which imparted these incredible porky undertones (gotta love porky undertones). The whole thing is studded with heavenly bits of salami (I used Fra'Mani dry salumi) and oozy gooey stripes of provolone. This bread is a delight; this bread is a carnivore's siren song; this bread is an irresistible meaty cheesy meal unto itself.
It was an easy one to make as well. With less butter than the previous brioche, the recipe yielded a nice, soft dough. After the first rise, I left it in the refrigerator overnight, then shaped, proofed, and baked in the morning. I baked it in a 9" spring form pan which made a perfect shape for little casatiello wedges, though next time I might try a smaller pan just to get a cute little muffin top silhouette.
After it came out of the oven, I spent the rest of the afternoon shaving off slices and surreptitiously stuffing them into my mouth. The following morning, we polished it off alongside hefty helping of scrambled eggs and tea. Casatiello, I miss you already.