Back in the mid to late 80s, there was an Italian restaurant in town called Enza's. I never set foot in the place, but every so often my Pop would bring home a loaf of their stuffed bread for dinner. Enza's has existed in Lexington at various times over the years, most recently they were in Eastland Shopping Center, but they're gone from there now too. Internet research tells me the owner was Enza Morris. The stuffed bread is a loaf of white bread containing 3 meats (at least when my Dad picked them up) and some cheese. You eat it with their marinara sauce.
For the last week or two, stuffed bread has been on my mind. I used to make it back in the mid nineties, and I think I did a fairly good job. I don't think I've made it for the last 20ish years though. I probably burned myself out on it at some point, and then it just disappeared from my brain. I got to the point on friday that I was totally obsessing about it, so I knew for sure that I'd have to make it this weekend. Turns out, I had to make it twice.
The biggest problem with stuffed bread is that you have to know several hours ahead that you want it. It's not hard to make, just time intensive.
It's more method than recipe. So, I'm going to give you the step by step. Some of my pics are sideways, and some of them out of focus, but you're getting them anyway. I'm sure you'll get the drift.
Start with frozen bread dough, 1 pound loaves. I've always gotten mine from Kroger, though I'm sure any brand will do.
Follow the directions on the package to thaw one loaf. One loaf easily feeds two for dinner, though if you're really hungry then it might not feed any more. This is the time intensive part. It takes at least 6 hours to thaw a loaf. Though I tend to use the overnight method. That cuts my rise time to 3 hours.
Let bread rise until it's nice and poofy. Like so....
Then I take the rolling pin to it. You want to make a nice big rectangle, maybe 1/4-1/2 inch in thickness.
Start layering your meats. The original that I had all those years ago had pepperoni, ham and sausage. I also put in salami, but that's just me. I'm sure that you could do this with vegetables, but you should most likely pre-cook them. That way they don't release a lot of liquid in the middle of your bread. Then layer on the cheese. Today I used ricotta, muenster (which makes for stretchy cheese) and an "Italian" mixture of cheeses. Put in what pleases you.
Next, I fold one side of the dough over the top and then the other. I pinch at the seam. I also pinch the ends closed. Then I let it rise for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how patient I feel. Repinch the seam/ends closed if you need to before putting it in the oven.
While it's rising, heat your oven to 350F. Bake for 26ish minutes. That's the time I got from the bread package and it works fine. The bread will be all GBD and the innards will be warm and oozy.
I usually cut off very first/last bit of the end, as it is mostly bread. That's personal preference. Then I slice somewhere in the 3/4 - 1 inch range.
While the bread is in the oven, warm up a bit of your favorite marinara sauce. For this weekend, I was testing out some Carafagna's Italian Market sauce, which was recommended by a friend. He says this sauce tastes just like his mom's sauce. I don't know about that, but I do know that it's pretty darned tasty!
This was the boyfriend's first exposure to stuffed bread and he was quite pleased. So pleased that he was happy to hear we'd be having the exact same dinner two nights in a row. I was pretty pleased too, it tasted every bit as good as I remembered it.