New Years is a holiday that should be filled with food. There are various regional traditions for New Years in the United States that I have crossed paths with, such as collards and black eyed peas in the South or pork and sauerkraut in the Eastern European neighborhoods of Chicago and Pittsburgh. I have no specific traditions but I think that this recipe has somewhat evolved into a tradition for my wife and I. We have made it for the past couple of years and it is a great thing to have on New Years Day - it is an ultimate hangover cure (an obvious requirement), it's not too complex to make, and it's something that you will inevitably snack on all day long. It's also infinitely versatile and any of the ingredients can be swapped or experimented with to find all kinds of great combinations. After a long weekend, sitting around on the couch eating this all day was exactly how I wanted to wrap up my holiday.
Prosciutto, Basil, Sun Dried Tomato and Egg Stuffed Bread
adapted from http://notwithoutsalt.com/2009/08/31/stuffed-bread/
1/4 lb deli ham
1/4 lb Prosciutto di Parma
5+ hard boiled eggs
1½ c shredded Fontina cheese
½ c chopped fresh basil
½ oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
4 c bread flour
little over 2 c lukewarm water
3 1/4 tsp packets dry yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
For the eggs:
Hard boiled eggs are really easy to make as long as you follow some basic rules. Start by placing them in cold water. I use these small cookie cutters to place the eggs on so that they heat more evenly. If they are left to touch the bottom of the pot, they are getting much higher heat from that surface than from the water. Raising them allows them to cook evenly on all sides. Bring the water to a boil and turn off the heat. Let the eggs cool for 10 minutes and then place them in an ice bath. They can stay there until you are ready to peel them.
For the bread:
Bloom the yeast by mixing it with the lukewarm water and whisking until smooth. Let sit as it foams.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Pour half of the water into the bowl and mix with a fork to evenly incorporate flour and water. It will begin to create a shaggy dough. Add more water to create a wet mix, while continuing to stir with fork. The water amount could vary - if it gets very wet, balance it out by adding more flour. You may not use all of the water, and that's ok. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and begin kneading. I had to add a fair amount of flour here to keep the dough from being too sticky. Continue working it for 5 minutes or so, until it is a smooth elastic dough. Place the dough in a floured bowl and cover with plastic shrink wrap and a dish towel, and keep it somewhere warm to let it proof.
It should double in size over the course of an hour or so, let it go as long as it needs to in order to double. When it is doubled, pound it down for about 30 seconds and turn it out again onto a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to make it into roughly a 14"x10" rectangle. This is your basis for the bread.
For the stuffing:
Chop your basil and sun dried tomatoes into smaller pieces for even distribution. Start by placing the ham and prosciutto down, followed by the cheese, basil, tomatoes, and lastly the eggs on top. Grind some fresh pepper on top and maybe sprinkle a little salt if you want.
Bring it all together:
Have a small cup of water handy. Fold one edge of the bread over the ingredients and rub the edge with some water. Fold the other edge over and use your fingers to seal the wet edge to the edge that you just folded over. If you would like to bake it in a ring, have a baking sheet with a silpat or oiled parchment in it ready to go nearby. Place it next to your sealed dough and bring it onto the baking sheet by segments, curling each piece as you go. You won't be able to lift the whole thing up and lay it down as a ring at once, so doing it incrementally allows you to create the ring shape without tearing the dough in the process.
Cover your stuffed dough and allow it to proof for another 30 minutes or so. Preheat the oven to 350º while you wait for the second proof to happen.
As you can see in my pictures, I think I let it go too long because my ring all but disappeared. Don't forget that it will puff in the oven as well. There's a fine line between not allowing it to proof enough; thus ending up with dense dough, and letting it go so long that you lose your pretty shape. Next time that I make this, I will probably try to let it proof a little less to account for how much it will expand in the oven.
When the dough has risen enough and you are ready to begin baking, beat one egg and brush the top of the dough with your egg wash. Sprinkle a little kosher salt on top of the bread as well. The egg wash will give it a really nice golden sheen during the baking process, it really makes it look great coming out of the oven. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the top of the bread is golden and starting to brown just a bit. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least an hour.
I served it with a little bit of olive oil for dipping. All in all, it's a few hours work but it is so well worth it and the snackability is amazing with this little guy. You can easily reduce the time by making the dough the day before or so and just refrigerating it - then all you have to do is roll it out, stuff it, and bake it. The sun dried tomatoes really make this bread amazing by balancing out the creamy egg and the salty ham. The fontina melts so well that it almost turns into a sauce when it mixes with the oils released by the prosciutto, and the basil adds just a bit of fresh herb punch against the starchy bread. Fantastic.