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Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Stuffed Baguette

This image courtesy of Gordon Munro

NotesALL OTHER METHODS: When the dough begins its final fermentation, place one oven rack on the bottom rung and the other rack one rung below the center. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

If using La Cloche, place the bottom part in the oven 30 minutes before you are ready to bake. Fifteen minutes before baking, place the lid upside down in a bowl (so it will remain level) in the sink and fill the lid with cold water. Allow the lid to soak until ready to use. (You can also use a German Romertopf or any other clay cooker with a lid in the same way.)

If using an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven with a lid, place the bottom in the oven 30 minutes before you are ready to bake. You do not need to soak the lid.

If you are not using any of these vessels, you will need to add steam to the oven during the initial baking process to achieve the desired crusty, artisanal-style loaf. I have had great luck, as have our home recipe testers, creating steam through the use of lava rocks. To do this when using a baking stone in a home oven, fill the base of a broiler pan or a disposable aluminum baking pan with a single layer of clean (washed and dried) lava rocks. Place the pan in the oven to preheat for about 30 minutes before you are ready to bake. You will add the necessary water later in the process.

Makes2 loaves

Cooking Methodbaking

CostInexpensive

Total Timeunder 4 hours

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseantipasto/mezze, appetizer

Dietary Considerationegg-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Mealdinner, lunch

Type of Dishbread

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Country French Bread 
  • About 2 thinly sliced Roma tomatoes
  • A generous handful julienned fresh basil leaves
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella or Asiago cheese, at room temperature

Instructions

  1. 1-3 MEASURING, MIXING AND KNEADING, AND FIRST FERMENTATION

  2. Make the dough according to the directions for Country French Bread through the first fermentation stage, mixing either by hand or with an electric mixer.

  3. 4 DIVIDING

  4. Very lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. Uncover the dough and, using your bowl scraper, scrape the dough onto the lightly floured work surface. Let the dough rest for 30 seconds.

  5. If the dough is very sticky, lightly flour your hands, but do not add more flour to the dough. If the dough sticks to the table, use your bench scraper to lift it up; do not pull and stretch the dough. With the palm of your hand, lightly press the dough into a rectangle about 9 inches by 12 inches. Then, using your hands, gently pick up the dough to make sure it is not sticking to the work surface.

  6. Using your bench scraper, cut the dough in half to form two rectangles, 6 inches by 9 inches each. Again, using your hands, gently pick up the dough to make sure it is not sticking to the work surface.

  7. 5 SHAPING

  8. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

  9. Working with one piece of dough at a time, turn the dough so that the longer side is facing you, and again press down lightly with your palm.

  10. Then, place half of the tomatoes, in a slightly overlapping pattern, down the center of the dough. Sprinkle half of the basil over the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and top with an even layer of half of the cheese.

  11. Using both hands, pick up each corner of the side of the dough closest to you. Very lightly pulling on the dough, fold the dough in, horizontally, to the center of the rectangle, covering the tomato stuffing. Using the heel of your hand, press down firmly to seal.

  12. Using your fingertips, pick up the far side of the dough and fold it halfway up and over the first seam, again with a very light pull on the dough. Using the heel of your hand, again press down firmly to seal.

  13. Gently pick up the dough and place it so the seam is on the side. Using the heel of your hand, firmly press the seam against the work surface to flatten and to create tension in the dough.

  14. Transfer the shaped dough to a prepared baking sheet, seam side down.

  15. Fill and shape the remaining piece of dough in the same way and place it on the other baking sheet, seam side down.

  16. Cover each baking sheet with a clean linen towel followed by plastic wrap.

  17. 6 FINAL FERMENTATION

  18. Set the baking sheets in a warm (75°F to 80°F), draft-free place. Record the time in your Dough Log, as well as the exact time required for the final fermentation, and set your timer. It should take about 1 hour for the final proofing; however, you should keep a close eye on the dough, because if it is overproofed it will be unusable.

  19. If you are using the stainless-steel bowl method to bake the bread, about 30 minutes before you are ready to bake, move one oven rack to the lowest rung and remove the other. Place a large baking stone on the rack and preheat the oven to 450°F.

  20. To determine whether the dough is ready to be baked, uncover and gently make a small indentation in the center of the dough with your fingertip. If the indentation slowly and evenly disappears, the bread is ready to bake. Since only one pan will fit on the stone, cover the remaining one with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator, then bake after the first loaf comes out of the oven. If scoring, score the remaining loaf just before baking.

  21. 7 BAKING

  22. Although scoring is not required on this bread, I usually do so. Using a lamé or single-edged razor blade and with a quick, decisive movement, cut three 1-inch long lines on the loaf, just barely breaking through the skin and cutting about 1/8 inch into the dough. If the dough is very shiny, the slashes may stick a bit.

  23. Immediately slide the loaf on the parchment paper onto the center of the stone, taking care not to touch the hot surface.

  24. Quickly cover the loaf with the stainless-steel mixing bowl and immediately close the oven door. Bake for 10 minutes; then, lift the edge of the bowl with the tip of a small knife and use oven mitts to carefully remove the hot bowl. Continue to bake until the bread is a deep golden brown with a crisp crust, the cheese has melted, and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 10 to 15 minutes more. If you are concerned about the bread’s doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer from the bottom of the bread into the center. If it reads 185°F to 210°F the bread is fully baked.

  25. Transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool for at least 1 hour before cutting with a serrated knife or wrapping for storage. Or, as some of my customers do, enjoy as soon as it has cooled enough to be handled.

  26. Getting Ready to Bake

  27. STAINLESS-STEEL BOWL METHOD: One of the least expensive and most effective methods of achieving a crisp crust on your artisanal bread is by using a stainless-steel mixing bowl (about 12 inches in diameter and 5 inches deep) as the insulator. This works for almost all breads except the baguette shape. For a baguette, use a commercial hotel pan, which is long enough to fit over an almost standard-size loaf. I cover the corners, or anywhere else air could escape from, with aluminum foil to create a stronger seal. Move one oven rack to the lowest rung and remove the other. When the dough begins its final fermentation, place a large baking stone on the rack and preheat the oven to 450°F.

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Dear hcruz and Bllue, Sincere apologies for the error! The recipe has been updated and corrected. All best, Kara Rota Editorial Director

Sounds delicious but WHERE'S THE CHEESE?

Not getting it....recipe instructions refer to cheese (in at least two places)but no cheese amount or type is indicated in the ingredients.....

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