Muffuletta, my favorite sandwich, takes its name from the large, round loaf it is prepared on. If you’ve ever had something called a “muffuletta” at a place that described the meats and signature olive salad, but put it on on focaccia, you were not eating a muffuletta. There are some very evil places that do that (or at least used to), in spite of having Louisiana roots.
Living in Cincinnati, for me to get a good muffuletta without being groped by TSA, I have to build it from the ground up. Cincinnati is a great meat town, so that part is easy. However, the key components–the olive salad and the bread–have to be made by hand. Fortunately, I can find recipes for this. The bread is good for a number of other applications (my wife loves having turkey on it), so it’s a worthwhile investment in time. Still, I only make it from the ground up infrequently. Salami, capicola, mortadella, and cheese aren’t exactly health food.
Most of the places I’ve been to sell muffulettas in increments of whole, half, or quarter. With a bag of Zapps, a quarter is fine under normal circumstances–lunch on a random Tuesday. However, since I only get to have a muffuletta the one or two times I’m in Louisiana in a year, I indulge in ordering half (hey–I’m on vacation). When I make it myself, I cut a hunk for the sandwich I want at the moment.
However, one of the downsides of that approach is the soft inside is exposed to air, hastening it becoming stale. My wife also favors doing sandwich on buns rather than sliced bread. So, I decided to make sandwich-sized rolls.
I started with the basic muffuletta recipe I use (from my favorite Louisiana food blog). It really doesn’t take that much longer than any of the other breads I make. The first divergence takes place between the first and second rises. Instead of “Punch the dough down and shape into a flat round about 9 inches across,” I divided it into ten rounds about 2-3″ across. The total dough weighs in at about 750 grams; I shoot for 70-80 grams each.
(The picture lacks sesame seeds, which is in the original recipe. I was out of sesame seeds.)
I let the next rise go for the stated hour, and do the egg wash. I do the initial bake at 425 degrees for seven minutes. After lowering it to 375, I let the baking go for another 10-15 minutes. This first time, I took the internal temperature with an insta-read thermometer, looking for 190-200 degrees. The “until it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped” was the key confirmation for me.
What came out of the oven was a great bread that was great for sandwiches, and had a great texture. Even the next day it was wonderful. This may become my standard bread for non-grilled sandwiches.