Prosciutto/Lebanon Bologna Bread {ModBak}

The next recipe I tackled in the Breads section of the Modern Baker Challenge was Prosciutto Bread. I have committed myself to baking all the recipe in the book, so there was no escaping this one, but it did present a dilemma. I don’t eat pork products, so I was left with the choice between making a bread I couldn’t eat or finding a substitution for the prosciutto. Faced with a similar problem during the BBA Challenge when baking Casatiello, I used Lebanon bologna in place of salami with great results. So I decided to do the same thing here, substituting Seltzer’s Beef Lebanon Bologna for the prosciutto.

If you’ve never had Lebanon bologna, it is similar to trail bologna — smoky and slightly sweet. But unlike trail bologna, it is the size of regular bologna and is usually sliced thin for sandwiches. One of my family’s favorite ways to eat Lebanon bologna is to fry the slices briefly in a skillet then eat them on a sandwich.

Other than the addition of meat to the dough, this is a fairly straightforward enriched bread that consists of flour, salt, sugar, ground black pepper, yeast, water, and olive oil. I recalled that when Kayte baked this recipe, she observed that the bread was too salty. Lebanon bologna isn’t as heavily salted as prosciutto, but it is still fairly salty, so I cut the salt in the recipe back from 1 1/2 teaspoons to a scant teaspoon. The amount of pepper — 1 tablespoon — seemed like a lot to me, but I went with it, grinding pepper into a tablespoon measure before adding it to the rest of the dry ingredients.

The main thing that distinguished this bread from Casatiello was that the Prosciutto Bread doesn’t have any cheese in it. I was a bit leery of this, as the gooey cheesiness was one of the things that made the Casatiello one of my favorite recipes in the BBA Challenge. But I wanted to stay as true to the recipe as I could, so I made it without cheese.

After mixing the dry ingredients, I combined the water, yeast, and oil in a measuring cup, then added them to the dry ingredients and mixed until the dough was evenly moistened. I then folded in the Lebanon bologna. After a brief autolyse, I folded the dough in the bowl with a bench scraper about 20 times. Then I put the dough in an oiled bowl to ferment.

The dough took about an hour and a half to double. The recipe suggests shaping the dough into batards but also gives the option of making braided loaves. I decided to do one of each. I shaped half the dough into a batard, then divided the remaining dough into two pieces and did a two-strand braid.

The dough proofed for almost two hours, until it doubled. Meanwhile, I preheated the oven to 400° F.

I baked the loaves for 30 minutes — the recipe says 40 — at which time the internal temperature was 195° F and the crust was golden brown. The bread smelled amazing while it baked: there is nothing like the smell of Lebanon bologna while it cooks. It reminded me of Casatiello, and I was really excited to try it.

I let the loaves cool for a few minutes before slicing into the braid. The crumb was soft and studded with bits of meat.

I eagerly grabbed a slice of bread, slathered it with lightly salted cultured butter, and took a bite. It was good. A bit too peppery, but otherwise really good. I ate about five slices for dinner and was perfectly satisfied.

But it did seem like there was something missing. Then it occurred to me — it needed a slice of cheese. So in the end, it was almost as good as Casatiello and might have been just as good if, like the BBA bread, it had cheese added to it.

Moral of the story:  if you’re going to add meat to bread, you might as well add cheese, too.


  1. Kayte said,

    August 18, 2010 at 9:36 am

    LOL on the eating five slices…you and Matt could have a round of “Let’s see who can down the most of this….” It was fun to learn about Lebanon Bologna as I have not heard of that before, but you can bet that now I will be on the search for it to try it. Guys here love anything resembling that type of meat. There was a lot of pepper in it…next time I will cut back on that, too. It all looks wonderful.

    • gaaarp said,

      August 18, 2010 at 5:29 pm

      I’m sure Matt could beat me in an eating contest, but I’d give him a run for his money. Unfortunately, I don’t burn off all these excess calories like he does.

  2. girlichef said,

    August 16, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Wow, that looks amazing! Just that meat studded throughout is enough to set off my salivary glands…but surely I’d crave some cheese, too. And some wine. 😉

  3. sallybr said,

    August 16, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Looks delicious! Casatiello seems like a distant past… time flies!

    Nice post!

    • gaaarp said,

      August 16, 2010 at 7:43 pm

      Thanks, Sally!

      It does seem like a long time ago that we made Casatiello. One of the things I’ve enjoyed about the Breads section of TMB is that it has caused me to go back and read some of my BBA posts.

  4. Renee said,

    August 15, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    I loved the Casatiello bread from BBA so I’m sure I’d love this one too…. with the cheese addition.

    • gaaarp said,

      August 15, 2010 at 10:57 pm

      Definitely go for the cheese, Renee. Cut back the salt and pepper, add a little cheese, and you’ll have an awesome bread.

  5. Di said,

    August 15, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Look yummy! I haven’t had Lebanon bologna in ages. I grew up in PA, so we ate it quite often. Amazingly enough, there is a place here in Austin where I can buy it; might have to get some next week. I have to agree, I love cheese in bread. When I did the casatiello, I actually did a version that was cheese and sundried tomatoes (no meat) and it was very good.

    • gaaarp said,

      August 15, 2010 at 9:35 pm

      Di, I grew up in PA, too (Lancaster County), so I have a fond place in my heart for Lebanon bologna. I was thrilled to find it here in OH. We can get whoopie pies and Turkey Hill ice cream, too. But no shoofly pie, I’m afraid.

  6. Margaret said,

    August 15, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    The casatiello was one of favorites, too, with the BBA. An all in one sandwich. Which is why I am looking forward to making this one.

    May use some kind of summer sausage in mine instead of the Prosciutto, but then again, maybe not…..

    As usual, looks great.

    • gaaarp said,

      August 15, 2010 at 4:28 pm


      Summer sausage would be good, I bet. And no one would blame you if you slipped in a few chunks of cheese.

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