If you’ve ever been to New Orleans and had one of their famous muffuletta sandwiches, you know how good they are — and the great lengths we’ll go to recreate them at home. The olive salad and cold cuts are the easy part — but if you don’t live in Louisiana, good luck finding muffuletta bread. This round bread (also known as “muffs” — don’t Google that) is the perfect conduit for the layers of filling, however, to make them at home, you’ll either have to order the bread online, or try your hand at this homemade white bread… which is what I did.
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What Is Muffuletta Bread?
Muffuletta Bread is essentially a homemade white bread that’s round and flat. Not like a round boule that’s got a distinctive dome and a dense mile-high interior but rather a circular loaf, about 10″ in diameter and 1 1/2″ high — all the way across. No domes, no poofs — just a hearty loaf that will hold all the fillings without the diner having to unhinge his/her jaw to take a bite.
Making Homemade White Bread Dough
I fully expected to be able to find a sturdy round bread that wasn’t overloaded with dough at the grocery store or even an Italian bakery. Eight different stores later — I’d had no luck and ended up back at home, pulling out my stand mixer and the rest of the ingredients to make my own muffuletta bread. In retrospect, it was easier to do than I’d thought.
- Mix warm water and sugar in a glass measuring cup.
- Add yeast and stir. Set aside for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (can also do it by hand) combine the bread flour, salt and shortening.
- Add the foamy yeast mixture and mix until all ingredients are combined and you have a soft, elastic dough.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and let it rise.
Forming The Round Bread
- Place the muffuletta bread dough onto a lightly floured work surface.
- Pat or roll the dough into a 9″ circle. (I found this easier to do with a rolling pin).
- Transfer the round to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Brush the top of the dough with an egg wash (egg and a few tablespoons of water, whisked together).
- Sprinkle the dough with sesame seeds and place in a warm draft free spot to rise.
- Bake until golden brown.
How to Slice Muffuletta Bread For Sandwiches
- This flat, round bread is perfect for making a large muffuletta (or any other type of sandwich) that will easily feed 4-6 people, depending on appetites.
- The key is to slice it, very carefully, using a long, serrated bread knife.
- Place your hand on top of the loaf to steady it.
- Center your knife halfway between the top and bottom of the bread.
- Use long, slow sawing motion to cut cleaning through the bread, so that it’s even all the way across.
- I recommend having a person opposite you watching how the bread is cutting through the other side and letting you know if your cuts go astray. The extra person is a failsafe to assure you’re getting two even-ish halves, but if your a pro, you can skip it. (I had three people watching on all sides….)
That’s it. Now you’re ready to make your Muffuletta sandwich.
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- 1 cup warm water 110°
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ ounce package active dry yeast
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening (I used Crisco)
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Add warm water to a measuring cup and stir in the sugar. Stir in the yeast and set aside for 5-10 minutes or until foamy.
- While the yeast is developing, add the bread flour, salt, and shortening to the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a hook attachment.
- When the yeast is foamy, add it to the flour mixture and knead the dough on low to medium speed until the dough is fully incorporated and the dough is soft and smooth.
- Lightly oil a medium bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, flipping it over once or twice to lightly coat with oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and put in a draft free space until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
- When the dough has risen, punch it down and transfer to a lightly floured surface.
- Form the dough into a 10" diameter round loaf and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl and lightly brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and set aside in a draft free space to rise a second time until almost doubled in size, about one hour.
- Place rack in the center of oven and preheat to 425°. Bake loaf in the center of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375° and continue baking for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
- Let loaf cool before slicing.