Monday, October 31, 2011

Parmesan Reggiano Sour Dough Cheese Bread

When I was doing my first internship for my AS in Culinary Arts and Johnson & Wales, I spent 6 months working for the Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod. I worked a month in the pantry and then was rotated to Garde Manager. I loved the department so much, and the chef I worked under that I spent my remaining five months there. Since I was so comfortable with all of the dishes and recipes, I was appointed to run the Anti-Pasti station at the weekly Grand Buffet every saturday. (A jew slicing pork products on the sabbath ....blasphemy.) So I came to love the taste of all these italian cheeses, I always had at least half a wheel of Parmesan to slice for people, and this was a trip down memory lane. I distinctly remember guest asking "Sir, is this fresh prosciutto (they pronounced it like this Pur scoot EE OH) and I had to explain that I was freshly slicing it but it was ages in salt for a few years. I had to explain the same for the Parmesan which was pronounced (parm mees eye an). People crack me up! I loved the buffet. Hope you enjoy this anecdote and the following bread

I finally bucked down and went to Whole Foods to get the remaining ingredients I need to finish the rest of the formulas in Jeffrey Hamelman's book Bread including Parmesan cheese, hazelnuts and Nicoise olives  The hazelnuts are going to be used in a prune and toasted hazelnut sour dough bread. The olives will be used in an Olive Levain and the hazelnuts will be used in both a toasted hazelnut and prune bread and a Hazelnut and Fig Bread with Fennel seeds and Rosemary, a loaf I am excited about. (I forgot to get the figs, I will make another run!)

This sourdough cheese bread contains a fairly large portion of cheese (nearly 20% of flour weight). The formula instructs the baker to cube half of the cheese while grating the rest. I had a Micro-plane on hand so I used that rather than a grater. I think this might have been to fine of a grate, but the presence of the cheese in the bread is very pronounced. It has a typical Parmesan smell and that amazing salty cheese taste. My favorite part of the bread is the contribution of the cubes of cheese in the final product. In every slice so far there has been a fairly large glob of cheese. I have not yet tried to toast the bread but once it begins to slightly dry I will, and I am excited for the results.

I unfortunately forgot to take a picture of the finished loaf prior to cutting a slice last night. But here is the finished product with a good look at the crumb.

You can see the end product of dicing half of the cheese on both the slice and the loaf in the background

Note: I started to weight the bread flour, prior to tareing the scale, so I might have used a little too much or a little less flour than the recipe called for. I did my best and used my best judgement to minimize the effects of my scaling error

Analysis: The bread is good, but I am not sure it is worth the three dollars in cheese! Hamelman suggests the use of part Asiago and part Parmesan, and I think that would be delicious. I happen to really like Asiago, especially when it is combined with basil; so good! I will try this soon.

Conclusion: another interesting loaf, courtesy of my buddy Jeff H. Not a favorite recipe, but another one under my belt.

Bake on!

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