My grandmother used to make this bread as an appetizer for holiday dinners. Its also a great dish for a light supper or super bowl parties, etc. It is not as difficult to make as it may sound. Each loaf will yield 6-10 servings depending on how large you mke the slices.
- 2 lbs loose sweet Italian sausage links (or remove casings from 2 lbs of links)
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fennel seed (optional)
- 1 lb grated mozzarella cheese (approx. 4 cups)
- 6 cups flour (set aside 1 cup of the 6)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 envelope rapid rise dry yeast
- 1 1⁄2 cups water
- 1⁄2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons margarine
- 2 tablespoons finely grated locatelli cheese or 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (optional)
- In frying pan, brown sausage over medium high heat.
- Drain drippings and let cool.
- Mix 2 eggs, basil, fennel seeds and mozzarella into cooled sausage and set aside.
- In large bowl, combine 5 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
- In small sauce pan, heat water, milk and butter until hot to the touch (about 125°), and stir into dry mixture.
- Mix in only enough of the reserved 1 cup of flour to make a soft dough.
- Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (about 8-10 minutes).
- Cover dough and let rest for about 10 minutes.
- Divide dough in half, set one half aside.
- Roll half the dough into a 6" x 18" rectangle.
- Spoon half the sausage mixture evenly over the dough to within a 1/2 of the edges.
- Fold the dough over the sausage filling and overlap the dough by about 1 1/2", seal seam and ends by pinching dough together.
- Carefully transfer filled dough to a greased baking sheet in a horseshoe shape.
- With a very sharp knife or razor, make slashes in the top of dough about 1/2" deep and about 2" apart.
- Repeat rolling and filling with remaining piece of dough.
- Beat remaining egg and brush over both loves of bread.
- Lightly sprinkle 1 TB of Locatelli or Parmesan cheese over each loaf (optional).
- Cover loaves and let rise until doubled (about 40-50 minutes).
- Bake in preheated 375° oven for about 25-30 minutes or until done.
- Remove from baking sheets and cool slightly.
- Serve warm.
- Refrigerate leftovers.
- Bread can be made a day ahead of time and then warmed in the oven before serving.