Prep 4 hrs
Cook 30 mins
There will be two versions of this recipe posted on here - one is the traditional (and being able to be planned/shopped for), and the other is the improvised (because I'm snowed in and don't have half of the ingredients) version. This is the traditional version. For both versions, a baking stone and wooden peal are required.
- 1⁄4 ounce active dry yeast (One package)
- 1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 6 -8 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon butter, melted
- 1 lb sage sausage, loose
- 1 lb mozzarella cheese (sliced or grated)
- 1 (12 ounce) can spinach (or 12 ounces of cooked spinach frozen)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1⁄4 sweet onion
- Place yeast in 1cup warmed water and let sit for 10-15 minutes until it starts to foam.
- Dissolve salt in remaining 2 cups of warm water.
- Place 5 cups of flour in a large mixing bowl. Add yeast and salt mixtures and mix well. Dough will still be wet and sticky.
- Either continue kneading the dough or place it in an electric mixer with a dough hook.
- Continue adding flour until the dough forms a kneadable mass. At this point, it will pull away from the mixing bowl or kneading surface on its own. Typically, it's another 1-3 cups of flour.
- Once the dough has a satiny sheen and pulls away from mixing/kneading surfaces easily, knead for another 10 minutes, or knead with the dough hook in the electric mixer on low-medium for about 7-8 minutes.
- Remove dough from mixing bowl and place into an oiled bowl (olive oil works the best). Flip the dough once to coat the top of the dough as well.
- Allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 1-1,5 hours, until dough doubles in size.
- Once dough has risen, punch it down and knead again for either 5 minutes by hand or three minutes by machine. After re-kneading the dough, separate it into two equal portions.
- If you're running low on space, place both dough balls into the same bowl (oil it again with olive oil if you don't feel it's slippery enough).
- If you have enough space, place both halves into separate bowls, both oiled with olive oil.
- Allow the dough to rise again for about an hour (doubling in size).
- While the dough is rising its second time, it's time to start the filling.
- Combine the loose sage sausage , sweet onion, and raw pine nuts into a large skillet.
- Brown sausage mixture until cooked.
- Drain excess liquid/fat.
- Once the dough has risen for its second time, remove one ball of dough at a time, and roll out flat (a rectangular shape is preferred).
- In the center of the dough, place the cheese - roughly 3" in from any edge - right in the middle of the dough. Use half of the filling for each loaf.
- After the cheese is placed, layer the cheese with 1/2 package of spinach per loaf, and again with 1/2 of the sausage per loaf.
- Once all of the stuffings are laid in place, fold over the long edges of the dough, followed with the short edges. Squeeze/roll the edges flat - this prevents leakage of the stuffing, and seals the bread shut.
- Coat the wooden peal with corn meal.
- Flip the stuffed and closed bread over, presenting the untouched side as the top. Place both loaves on the corn meal coated wooden peal.
- Let the dough rise, covered, and in a very warm place, for another 40-50 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 (or 325, if you have a gas oven).
- Once ovens are hot and dough has risen, use a very sharp knife to make a slit down the top of the loaves - be careful and don't slice into the stuffing!
- Brush melted butter over the tops of both loaves.
- Once the loaves have risen again (I've gotten the best results after rising loaves on top of the heating oven), place in the oven to bake for 20-50 minutes. Since ovens vary greatly, keep an eye on your bread. It only took me about 20 minutes in a gas oven, on a baking stone, heated to 350 on the dial (which was more like 375 in reality). The bread is ready when the top is a nice golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when you thump on it. The crust will be crunchy and hard. The insides will be tender and moist.
- Once bread is done, remove from oven and allow to cool for 30-40 minutes before serving.
- To serve, slice into 1/2" wide slices. It's best served warm, but can also be warmed up in the microwave at about 15 seconds per slice, or in the toaster oven at 350 for about 5-7 minutes for as many slices as you can lay flat (or you could just toast it).