A flavorful novelty bread that makes an excellent “finger-food” appetizer. Cut into small squares it and serve with plates of extra virgin olive oil, or homemade garlic oil.
Better supermarkets usually have antipasto ingredients readily available, often near the fresh salad bar or deli. I typically use a mix of green and black pitted olives, sweet or hot red and green peppers, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and whole garlic cloves.
All the antipasto ingredients are marinated in olive oil, or oil and vinegar. I rough-chop the antipasto mix and then scoop it into the bread mixing bowl with a chef’s knife. I don’t squeeze or drain the chopped antipasto to remove liquids, but I don’t add in the extra oils that have drained off the ingredients while I chopped them.
Makes: 6-8 appetizer servings
Time: About 3.5 hours, largely unattended
- 3 cups of unbleached bread flour
- 1.5 teaspoons of active dry yeast
- 1.5 teaspoons of sea salt
- 1.25 cups of lager beer (1 12 ounce bottle)
- 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
- 1 packed cup of rough-chopped mixed antipasto, plus a few whole olives and peppers reserved to decorate the bread
- Mix all the ingredients in a heavy kitchen mixer on low speed for 3 minutes, or mix by hand.
- Turn the dough into a greased bowl. Cover loosely and allow the dough to rise for 2 hours.
- Gently fold the risen dough down and knead it carefully for about a minute. I stretch the dough out horizontally, fold it in half, knead it a bit, then stretch it in the opposite direction and repeat.
- Form the dough into your preferred loaf shape. I usually use a simple round boule shape for this bread. Stud the outside of the loaf with some remaining antipasto ingredients like olive halves, chunks of pepper, or whole garlic cloves.
- Allow the dough to rise at least another hour. Slash the top of the loaf several times to aid in the oven rising.
- About 30 minutes into the second rise, preheat the oven to 425°F
- Use the Dutch oven method of baking the bread. Bake 20 minutes in the Dutch oven covered, then 15 minutes uncovered.
- Alternate for conventional oven baking: about 30 minutes at 425°F, until the crust is golden-brown.