Wednesday, December 31, 2008

By Request: Sausage Bread 101

Submitted by: Michelle

I recently gave into the pressure of Linda and Kazzer and signed up for Facebook. Who would have known how many people from my past would come out of the woodwork? My first day being on Facebook I re-connected with 2 friends from college and BOTH of them made a comment about their love of my sausage bread. Joe, the funniest man I've ever met, said specifically, "Why don't you do us all a favor and post the recipe??!!!" So, by popular request, here is how I make sausage bread...but first, a brief history.

For those of you west coasters who aren't familiar with sausage bread, it is a tasty mix of Italian sausage, mozzarella cheese, and bread dough all rolled together. My east coast family introduced me to sausage bread long ago, along with chicken riggies, tomato pie and half moons, and my Aunt Rosemarie helped me find a recipe that I could use to re-create sausage bread at home being that I don't have a local Italian bakery around the corner pumping out loaves for me to purchase. After reading many a cookbook about bread baking as well as pizza dough, I have tweaked the recipe just a bit to ensure success.

Sausage bread is not a quick meal, but the end result makes it totally worthwhile. If the words "Kitchen Aid Mixer" and "dough hook" mean nothing to you, I suggest you purchase your bread dough at the grocery store. There is no shame in using Bridgeford dough (found in the frozen section of most stores) and I have done it when time is short and sausage bread has been a necessity.

If you are up for making your own dough, here's what you need:

4 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 c dry milk (I'm not sure why this is part of the recipe and I have feeling it could be omitted if you don't have it on hand.)
1 tablespoon Crisco
1 package dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (approximately 110 - 115 degrees)

James McNair, one of the cooking gods that I worship, recommends heating the water, mixing in the sugar and then sprinkling the yeast over the top and gently mixing. In about 5 minutes or less, you should have a foamy, yeasty concoction. If you don't, your yeast isn't working and you need to start over.

While you are waiting for the yeast to do its thing, mix together the flour, salt, dry milk and Crisco in the bowl of your Kitchen Aid mixer. Add the yeast once it has activated and using the paddle attachment, mix all ingredients together. (It will be sticky.)

Using dough hook, knead dough for about 5 minutes. Pinch off a piece of dough. If it is extremely sticky add a bit more flour (a few tablespoons) and continue to knead. Dough should be smooth and slightly sticky, but will form a ball without leftover residue on the bowl. Keep kneading and pinching and adding flour as needed.

Cover dough and let rise in a warm, draft free spot for 1 hour. It should double in size. I like to put my dough in a bowl with a little bit of olive oil. I cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then a towel.
While you are waiting for the dough to rise, you can assemble the filling. You will need:

1 pound good Italian Sausage (not the pre-packed stuff like Johnsonville! Go to the meat counter and find something fresher. Better yet, go to Henry's or Bristol Farms or an Italian Market - Claro's if you live in the Claremont area - and get some house made sausages. )
Freshly grated mozzarella cheese, about 2 cups
grated Parmesan cheese, about 1 cup
1 extra-large egg (or 2 small), separated
garlic powder (optional)

Take the sausage out of the casings and fry in a skillet. Depending on the quality of flavor of the sausage, add some pepper and garlic powder to season it up.
Drain the sausage either on paper towels or through a fine mesh sieve to eliminate excess fat.

Put sausage into a bowl with the egg yolk and some Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup) and mix well. Set aside.
Once dough has risen, divide into 2 equal parts and roll out onto lightly floured surface.
Spread half of the sausage mixture over the dough and then top with mozzarella cheese and another sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Fold edges in and then roll into a loaf.
Place seam side down on a cookie sheet. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, brush with egg white and sprinkle sea salt and herbs (I used freshly chopped thyme but rosemary or oregano would be fantastic too!) for an added gourmet touch.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on the outside. I like to bake my sausage bread on a pizza stone, but using a cookie sheet will work just as well.
Serve with a simple salad and some marinara sauce on the side for dipping.


Anne Marie said...

sausage? bread? together in one beautiful loaf? truly manna from heaven. :-)

Don Hofer said...

OMG! I absolutely want to have this! Can you just make it and send it to me. My favorites...sausage, cheese, bread!
I can forward you my address...LOL!
don hofer

Veronica C. said...

Michelle - you are truly a cook ..... this looks delicious and I bet it taste delicious too!

~ Lucy said...

You do realize you'll have to bring this to an upcoming SU club night?! BRING IT!

Lizett said...

Will be making it this week because it looks so bueno!!!!

Amber said...

Michelle this looks great, I am going to have to try to make this