If you’ve never heard of a Muffuletta, that’s about to change. I had this sandwich once. Over ten years ago. And I still remember how good it was. It’s the kind of sandwich that just stays with you. This sandwich is famous in New Orleans. The one I had years ago was layers of various cured Italian meats topped with cheese and an olive salad pressed between crusty yet soft bread that was then heated until the cheese was perfectly melted (I don’t do unmelted cheese… ever). Yeah. It was that good.
I’ve thought about the Muffuletta ever since that one time I actually had it but I’ve never seen it on any menu anywhere I’ve been since. And though I could have easily made it at home – it almost seemed too decadent and indulgent. However, when my friend’s mother posted pictures of this recipe for a Muffuletta Babka, well, everything changed. This seemed perfectly acceptable to make because it would be shared by a lot of people and one slice couldn’t be too bad for you (at least that’s what I convinced myself). I made these unbelievable loaves of deliciousness and then promptly gave all (most) of it away. I had to. It was too dangerous and tempting. Everyone that tried it LOVED it. There was not a single bite left.
If this sandwich sounds like something you might like and you’re not in the New Orleans area, you have to try this Muffuletta Babka. It requires a little bit of extra work because of the dough, but this bread is also unlike anything I’ve ever had before. It’s so light and airy yet crisp on top. It’s so perfect for this braided loaf of cured meats, cheese and marinated olives. I guarantee you’ve never had anything like this – it’s like a calzone but so much better. It’s the perfect game day snack, appetizer and let’s face it I’d eat it for lunch or dinner.
Also, one more thing. The cured meats you use are totally flexible. Typically, a Muffuletta consists of ham (capocollo and/or prosciutto), Genoa salami, mortadella, mozzarella and mild provolone cheese plus the olive salad. I’m not a big fan of mortadella, so I used pepperoni instead but feel free to use whatever meats your heart desires! The original recipe was only for one babka, but with the amount of work that goes into this and how good it is, it’s definitely worth making two loaves. Now that school is back in session and both boys are there I should be able to get back to weekly posts… fingers crossed. Make this Muffuletta Babka your weekend activity – you won’t be disappointed. 🙂
Yield: 2 babka loaves (recipe can be halved)
Cook Time: 40-45 minutes
Total Time: At least 5 hours (inactive time for dough to rise)
- 560g (a little over 4 1/2 cups) of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 - 1 1/4 oz. packages (4 1/2 tsp) of dry active yeast
- 2 tsp sugar
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed at room temp
- 2 large eggs, room temp
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup Castelvetrano or green Cerignola olives, pitted and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Spanish olives (I used the ones stuffed with pimentos), finely chopped
- 2 tbsp roasted red peppers, finely chopped
- 2 tsp chopped drained capers
- 1 large clove garlic, grated or pressed
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 lb Genoa salami
- 1/4 lb thinly sliced prosciutto
- 1/4 lb thinly sliced hot capocollo
- 1/4 lb thinly sliced mortadella (or pepperoni)
- 1/3 lb mozarella cheese
- 1/3 lb mild provolone cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten for brushing the tops of the loaves
Olive Salad (can be made 1 day ahead)
- In a small bowl, combine the olives, peppers,capers, garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, olive oil vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Make sure the butter is truly at room temperture so that it incorporates into the dough properly; it should be soft enough to easily indent with your finger.
- Measure the flour in a medium bowl.
- Warm the milk a little bit in the microwave until it's lukewarm but NOT hot. If it's too hot, allow it to cool before using.
- Put the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment. Add the sugar, warm milk and 6 spoonfuls of the flour. Stir it all together and let it sit for 10 minutes. The yeast should activate and the mixture should begin to foam up a bit.
- With the stand mixer on medium speed, add the butter, eggs and salt and mix until combined.
- Add the flour a little bit at a time, stopping the mixer from time to time to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Mix the dough on medium speed for 5 minutes.
- You should have a supple (but not sticky) ball of dough.
- Lightly rub the outside of the dough and the sides of the bowl with olive oil or vegetable oil. Cover the dough with plastic wrap (make sure the plastic wrap is touching the dough) and let it rise away from drafts for 2 hours. Alternatively, you could loosely cover the dough and put it in the fridge for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Putting it all together
- Lightly spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray and line it with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, take half of the dough and roll it out into a rectangle that's roughly 10" x 16".
- Scatter half of the olive salad on the dough, leaving a clean 2" border all around. Press it into the dough with your fingertips.
- Next start layering the meats and cheese: place down a row of salami, then prosciutto, mozzarella, provelone, capocolla, mortadella (or pepperoni).
- Starting at one long end, tightly roll up the dough into a log, sealing the filling inside (you might need to tuck back the coldcuts while you roll to keep everything intact). Gently press the end of the the roll closed and gently pinch the the seam to close.
- Now, take a a sharp knife and cut that log right down the middle, the long way, creating two long, thin strips that expose the meats and cheese on the inner side.
- Starting at one end, pinch the two ends together, then lift one strip over the other, repeating all the way down to form a twist of the dough and filling.
- Pinch the bottom two ends together. Try to keep the filling inside the strips of dough, but if it looks a little bit messy, it's ok.
- To transfer the loaf into your prepared pan, put your hands on either end of the load and push it together, scrunching the babka a little bit.
- Gently, and quickly, lift and transfer the loaf into the pan. You can squish it a bit to fit it in if you need to. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
- Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow two rise again, away from drafts, for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Brush the loaves with the lightly beaten egg and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool in the pan before slicing.
Babka recipe adapted from Lucky Peach (babka dough adapted from David Lebovitz) and Muffuletta Babka adapted from and inspired by Lucky Peach and Bon Appetit.