Cacio e Pepe - the greatest pasta of all time as a bread loaf?! Ya’ll… this is an easy recipe. All you need is a big pot, flour, yeast, sugar, salt, parmesan cheese, and pepper. The basics are to use whatever bread recipe you’re comfortable with and add grated parmesan cheese and pepper. If you don’t have a go-to bread recipe you like, I wrote one down for you below using a Poolish starter because that’s what I’ve been using with success. What’s a Poolish you ask? Glad you asked.
What is a Poolish Starter?
Accordingly to King Arthur Flour, Poolish is a preferment with Polish origins. It is made with equal weights of flour and water (that is, it is 100% hydration), and a small portion of yeast.
I was gifted a jar of starter from my friend David (who designed the branding for Baking With Chickens!) that was split from a Mr. Holmes Bakehouse Bread Starter Kit. I feed it flour and water every few days when it’s hungry, keep it in a jar in the fridge, and use the ½ cup discard to make bread. I’ve heard from more experienced bread bakers that they’ve never heard of keeping and feeding a Poolish. I am not an expert bread maker but it’s working for me and maybe it converted itself into a sourdough starter by now. Whatever. It makes tasty bread. Who am I to question the generosity of the bread gods?
Why Use a Preferment?
Can’t I Just Use a Packet of Yeast Instead of Making the Starter? A preferment helps make your bread taste better. Sure you can just use a bread recipe with instant active dry yeast, I’m sure that it would work if you don’t want to wait 12-16 hours for the starter preferment process.
You could use a bread machine white bread recipe, add cheese and pepper, and let it do its work. Whatever you want to do to get tasty bread. I’m not a judgy bread purist here to tell you that bread machines are evil. I just want to encourage you to bake and eat delicious fluffy bread from scratch however you feel most comfortable making it.
Can I Make this with my Sourdough Starter?
Sure! Why not use your sourdough starter instead of the Poolish. I'm sure it'll be tasty! Don’t be afraid of failing. If it sucks turn it into bread crumbs and sprinkle it onto mac n’ cheese.
If you’d like to learn more about sourdoughs and starters, check out Artisan Bryan and his new cookbook “New World of Sourdough.”
For a no-bullshit, foul-mouthed, curse-filled enthusiastic version of how to make awesome badass fuckyea bread, check out Fuck Yea Noms.
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Get the Recipe
Cacio e Pepe Bread
Your favorite bowl of creamy, cheesy, peppery Cacio e Pepe pasta in a loaf of soft, fluffy bread. Adapted from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.
Time to Prepare: 5 hours, plus 12-16 hour Poolish rising time
Makes 1 loaf of bread
Poolish Starter, adapted from King Arthur Flour:
1/3 cup cool water
1/2 cup bread flour
1/16 teaspoon (a pinch) instant yeast
1/2 cup Poolish starter
3/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 3/4 cup bread flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
1. Make the poolish: Combine the flour, water, and yeast in a medium container or 1 quart mason jar. Cover the container loosely and allow to rest for 12 to 16 hours at room temperature. When the poolish is ready to use, it will be doubled in size, and filled with large bubbles. To test if your starter is ready, do a float test. Drop a little into a glass of water, if it sinks it’s not ready, if it floats, the yeasty bubbles are ready.
2. Mix poolish starter, water and olive oil together in a large bowl. Add bread flour, salt, sugar, salt, parmesan cheese, cracked pepper.
3. Knead by hand or using the dough hook on a stand mixer for 10 minutes until it's a smooth ball.
4. Do the windowpane test to see if it’s ready. Stretch a small piece of dough between your fingers until it’s thin enough to be translucent. If the dough rips and does not stretch, knead longer.
5. Shape into a tight ball by tucking the sides into the bottom-center of the dough, and proof in an oiled bowl. Cover for 2 hours to proof in a warm place to double in size.
6. After 2 hours, remove from the bowl, knock out the gas, shape into a ball again.
7. Put the dough ball into a heavy-lidded pot lined with a sheet of parchment paper. I like using a dutch oven, but any large pot will work. Second proof in a warm place for another 2 hours until it doubles in size.
8. 30 minutes before the second proof is done, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
9. Lightly dust with flour, make decorative cuts on the top of the bread dough.
9. Turn down your oven temp to 400 degrees F, bake for 20 minutes with the lid on.
10. 15 minutes into baking, open the oven, lift the lid, put a couple ice cubes into the pot between the side of the pot and parchment paper (so it doesn’t touch the bread dough), and place the lid back on. Steam while baking in the oven helps give it a crisp crust.
11. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and continue baking for another 20 minutes. Drop-in a couple more ice cubes to create steam.
12. At the end of baking check your bread, if the crust is light-colored continue baking in the pot for a few more minutes until golden-brown. You could also remove the bread from the pot by lifting the parchment paper and bake directly on the rack with the parchment paper to evenly brown the crust.
13. Remove from oven and cool on a baking rack for at least an hour before cutting into your heavenly-smelling bread.
14. Slice into that bad boy and stuff it into your mouth with slabs of salted butter. Mmm delicious carbs.
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