This recipe is a spin off/reinterpretation of lard bread, a classic Italian American bread typically made with prosciutto and other cured meat scraps. I’ve chosen to use mortadella here because….I love it a lot! If you’d rather use pepperoni, soppressata, or another cured meat, by all means! Mortadella is pretty mild in flavor, so I’ve called for 6 ounces here–if using something cured and salty like the aforementioned meats, cut them into smaller chunks, and reduce the overall quantity of meat to 4 ounces.
Active Time: 30 Mins
Total Time: 4 hrs 30 mins
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 ½ teaspoon sugar
- 310 g all purpose flour (2½ cups)
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- Flaky sea salt
- 6 ounces provolone cheese (in one large piece, not sliced)
- 2 ounces grated parmesan cheese
- 6 ounces mortadella (in one large piece, not sliced)
- 1 large egg
1. Prep the fillings:
- Cut 6 ounces provolone cheese into ½” dice.
- Cube 6 ounces of mortadella, into about ½” pieces.
- Lightly smash and peel 6 garlic cloves.
- Coarsely chop or grind 1 teaspoon fennel seeds.
2. Make the garlic oil:
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat. To the still hot oil, stir in the ground fennel, and a LOT of freshly ground black pepper–(like, a teaspoon or two). It should be very fragrant and pepper-y smelling. Finely grate 6 garlic cloves into the still warm oil. Set aside and let cool.
3. Make the dough:
- In the bowl of stand mixer, whisk together 1½ teaspoons of active dry yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and ¾ cup of warm tap water (it should be warmer than room temp–around 85-90 degrees). Let sit for 5 minutes until foamy bubbles begin to form on the surface.
- Outfit the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Pour the garlic oil into the yeast mixture and whisk to incorporate.
- Add 310 grams (2 ½ cups) of flour to the bowl and mix on low speed until a shaggy sticky dough forms, scraping down the bowl with a spatula if necessary, about 2 minutes.
- Add 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, increase the speed to medium and let the dough knead for 8 minutes, scraping down the dough hook if need be occasionally. At this point the dough should be tacky, smooth, and firmer, and should bounce back slowly when pressed with the pad of a finger. *** (If not using a stand mixer, you can do this all by hand–but you’ll need to knead for 12-14 minutes instead.)
- Add all of mortadella, provolone, and 2 ounces (about ⅔ cups) grated parm and mix on low until some of the mix-ins begin to work into the dough, 1 minute. You’ll see many of them fall to the bottom of the bowl. At this point, transfer the contents of the bowl to your work surface and knead the dough by hand for a minute or so in order to encourage the cheese and meat to work their way in. Shape the dough into a ball. Lightly grease the bowl it was in and return it to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours.
4. Shape, rise, bake:
- Once doubled in size, swiftly dump the dough back onto your work surface. Use your fingers to gently press any air bubbles out of it as you stretch it into a 15” by 6” rectangle (roughly). Fold one long side of the dough up to meet the middle of the rectangle, then do the same with the second, so they meet together. Use your fingers to pinch the seam to seal it.
- Gently roll and stretch the log of dough until it reaches about 20” in length (slightly longer than the long side of a half baking sheet). Twist the dough into a rope by grabbing both ends and twisting them in opposite directions for a few rounds.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the dough to the parchment, forming a circle with the rope. Use your fingers to pinch and seal the two ends together.
- Lightly cover with plastic wrap and let rise until puffed but not quite doubled in size, about 1 hour. While the dough proofs, preheat the oven to 425.
5. Wash and bake:
- Lightly beat one egg with a splash of water until homogenous. Once the dough is puffed, brush the surface with the egg wash. Season with flaky sea salt and more black pepper.
- Bake, rotating the baking sheet once halfway through, until golden brown and the cheese has oozed out and formed lacy frico at the edges, about 30 minutes.
- Let cool,10 to 15 minutes and eat warm!!