Most people are familiar with the four seasons. Chef Jasper Mirabile, however, would like to point out a lesser known fifth one, heirloom tomato season.
Mirabile—famous for his tableside mozzarella theater presentation—says heirloom tomatoes are in such bountiful supply this year, he’s created a new recipe to spotlight them. “I’ve been working on a special bread with my good friend Angela Holtgraves,” he says. “She has inspired me to bake bread again. It’s very relaxing.”
Mirabile says this crispy, artisan bread recipe is easy to duplicate at home. “Just a few steps—it’s like magic,” he says. “Baking is something I’ve always loved but I’ve never had time to do. You know me, I just make meatballs for a living!”
3 cups flour, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 3/4 cup water
1 cup heirloom tomatoes, diced
1 cup mozzarella, diced
6 – 8 basil leaves, torn
Remove seeds from tomatoes and dice meat pulp. Place tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil on paper towels to dry for about 10 minutes. Place towels on top and bottom and use a plate on top for pressure.
Mix flour, salt, and yeast together. In a separate bowl, add tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil and dust with two tablespoons of flour.
Add caprese mixture to dry bread ingredients and pour in 1 ¾ cups lukewarm water. Mix with wooden spoon. (This will be sticky.) Place wooden spoon on top and if dough sticks to back of wooden spoon when pulling up, you have mixed correctly.
Cover bowl with cellophane and place in a warm area. (Chef note: Or cover with a dish towel as well, if it is cooler in the house.) Let sit a minimum of five hours or overnight. Do not touch or uncover. Once it has tripled in size, it’s ready to be baked.
Flour a large, clean workspace with about 1.5 cups of flour. Pour out the dough onto the floured space—which will be very wet looking. Cover the top of the dough with more flour. Cover hands in flour, to prevent sticking. Push the dough into a large flat ball. Do not knead it as that will kill the large air pockets. Once the dough is no longer sticky, cut in half. (Add a little more flour if it is still sticky.)
Using a Dutch oven, place a large piece of parchment in it. It needs to cover the edges. Place one ball of dough in the center of the Dutch oven. Cover and place in a cold oven. Set temp to 450° for 30 minutes with lid on and another 30 minutes with the lid off.
Remove from oven, let cool—and enjoy.