I love bread—all kinds of bread, from artisanal sourdough bread and flat naan bread to wheat, ryes and multi-grain. I’ve never met a loaf I didn’t like.
Having said that, I’m kind of a bread purist, meaning I’m more into straightforward dough with not a lot of stuff in it. I’m talking about an honest loaf of bread, one I can enjoy with another one of my very favorite foods: butter.
There are times, however, that I also enjoy something fun like a bread studded and speckled with intriguing garnishments. I mean one that, instead of butter, I can enjoy just as well with a spicy tomato chutney, an eggplant caponata or a basil pesto for instance.
Cobblestone Bread is one of those breads.
Cobblestone Bread gets its name from the obvious. The top crust of the loaf looks chunky and irregular like worn cobblestone pavers on an old European street.
That look is achieved by chopping the raw dough (usually with a raw egg to bind and some chosen ingredients to flavor). The chopped dough is usually portioned into a loaf pan or some other metal baking pan, then proofed and baked. The end result is a bread chock full of delicious treats to suit your taste.
Of course, most people don’t make their own bread dough at home, so you can skip that part by buying a 1-pound loaf of frozen bread dough or by purchasing a bag of Nino’s fresh-made pizza dough and portioning yourself about a pound of it. As a bonus, the remainder will STILL be enough for a small personal pizza!
Making Cobblestone Bread
First, find yourself a 1 ½ lb. loaf pan, or if you want to make a round loaf, an 8” diameter cake pan will do just as well.
Set your oven to 375 F and spray your chosen baking pan liberally with a vegetable cooking spray. That’s important because the egg and other ingredients you’ll be adding to your dough tend to want to stick to your pan. It’s no fun making such a delicious creation, just to find out after baking that you can’t get it out of the pan without tearing it into pieces.
Using a non-stick metal or silicone loaf pan is actually the best choice. Even then, a little vegetable spray is helpful.
To make your Cobblestone bread, take a full pound of thawed, raw bread dough and place it on a large cutting board. Flour isn’t necessary.
Begin by chopping the dough into large 1” to 2” chunks. That will only take a few seconds.
Now, crack one extra-large egg over the chopped dough and add your additional ingredients. Below are a few suggestions:
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
½ Cup Chopped Pepperoni
½ Cup Diced Fresh Roma Tomato
½ Cup Chopped Kalamata Olives
½ Cup Chopped Sautéed Red Onions
2 TBSP Chopped Fresh Rosemary
2 TBSP Chopped Roasted Garlic
1 tsp. Cracked Black Peppercorns
1 Cup Roasted Seasonal Vegetables
1 TBSP Chopped Roasted Garlic
1 TBSP Chopped Fresh Italian Herbs
Don’t chop the mixture too long or too fine. While it won’t hurt the final flavor of the bread, the top surface won’t look as chunky and irregular as its namesake.
Once you’ve made your first loaf, you may get inspired to experiment with some other ingredients you enjoy. Two things to keep in mind:
Keep the ratio of dough to ingredients (by weight) about 2/3 dough to 1/3 garnish.
If the chopped dough seems too dry and the ingredients aren’t adhering to the dough, you can add another egg.
Have fun and let me know how YOUR first loaf came out or if you created a new recipe of your own.