***I've spent the weekend nursing two very sick kids and now I'm suffering the ailment myself. There aren't any words of creativity or wisdom coming out of my mouth right now so I'm re-publishing this entry from almost a year ago. This bread makes a wonderful contribution to a picnic and perhaps you are experiencing spring weather where you are!***
Okay, for those of you who requested it, here's the picnic bread recipe. It's not only delicious warm from the oven, but also for a day or two later (always a good thing to have on hand around this house full of "I'm hungry..." requests)! I found it to be a good thing to stick in the lunch box, too.
First, you need to make the bread dough. Out of laziness and ease, I make this dough in my bread machine, but you can make it by hand or mixer, too.
Ingredients for Dough:
1 C. water
3 C. Unbleached All-Purpose flour
1 T. butter (softened)
1 T. sugar
2 tsp. instant yeast (SAF instant yeast is by far my preference for baking---though I guess if I had my rathers I'd use fresh compressed but it just doesn't keep well. If you're going to use Active-Dry yeast you'll need to up the amount to aprox. 3 tsp).
Method: Mix all ingredients together and knead for aproximately 10 to 15 minutes until you have a stretchy dough that is smooth and elastic. Make sure your dough is not too dry---you want it a bit wet! Let the dough rise in a warm place for aproximately 1 1/2 hours or until it has doubled.
1-2 lbs Mild Italian Sausage
1 C. shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 jar diced pimento peppers, drained (or you could use roasted red peppers)
1/2 C. black olives, drained and sliced (or if you feel really daring and want a piquant flavor, add green olives stuffed with pimentos)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Make filling: In frying pan, fry sausage, breaking up the clumps, until done. Drain and cool. Mix Filling ingredients together in bowl.
To assemble the bread:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Line a half-sheet pan.
Roll the risen dough out on floured surface to a 14 X 9-inch rectangle. Brush the surface of the dough with the egg (reserving the rest) and spread the filling evenly to within an inch of the edges. Roll the dough up from the 9-inch side, and pinch the seams well to seal. Shape the dough into an oval and place seam side down on the prepared sheet pan---brush the top of the loaf with the rest of the egg. Cover the loaf and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Before baking, brush the top of the bread with the egg wash, then slash the top of the loaf horizontally 3 times. Bake the loaf in the center of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the bread is brown (you can check the internal temperature to see if it's aprox. 190 degrees or above). Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a rack. Let the bread cool quite a bit before serving.
Makes 16 slices.