We had a lot of ham leftover from Easter this week, and something about leftover ham just doesn’t scream, “I would make a fantastic snack!” when I see it there, slimy and going pale in the fridge. In fact, I believe it is screaming, “Toss me in the garbage! Toss me in the garbage!”
So, I don’t like ham. I’ll admit it. Not a fan. However, I can’t just throw away the free ham that was gifted to me. So, I turned it into a meal. Before I start, let me just say that if you wanted to (because you lack motivation, time, effort, the desire to bake bread, whatever) you could just buy a loaf of frozen bread dough from the supermarket. It’s in the frozen food section near the other baked goods (pies and whatnot). Just let it thaw, roll it out, wrap it up and let it rise before baking this. It requires much less effort than actually making bread from scratch. You’d still use your leftover ham in a completely new and different way.
Start by combining warm water, yeast and sugar in a stand mixer with a dough hook. By “warm” water, I think it feels like my kids’ bathwater. Warm, not hot at all. It should be about 110ºF. Mix together for two or so minutes until it gets cloudy.
That’s my yeast in that plastic container over there. You can buy instant yeast in one-pound bricks for around $3.00 and refrigerate it for up to six months. It’s much cheaper to do it this way if you do any baking, even if it’s not that often. Those little packages off the shelf run you a pretty penny. Besides, you really should bake more… I’m sure I could recommend more than a few wonderful recipes from fellow bloggers.
Flaxseed for texture (you could leave this out if you wanted), flour, kosher salt, rosemary.
Add it all to the mixer and let it mix on medium low setting until all incorporated, and then at a higher speed until the dough starts to look like a ball and pull away from the sides of the mixer and stick to the dough hook in the center.
I put a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a bowl to prevent stinking, dump my bread in there and cover it.
I put my dough in the oven to rise. I usually turn my oven on for a few minutes so it’s slightly warmer in there and then shut it off right away again. Then I place my bowl in and shut the oven door and walk away for an hour and a half.
When the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the oven, give it a punch and flip it out on top of a floured surface.
Knead the dough a few times so it is easier to work with and covered in flour. Then roll it out into a long, thin strip.
Layer toppings on the bottom half only. Ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and cream style horseradish all made it on there. If we had any, banana peppers would have been good too.
Before you look at the next picture, please understand that this is a terrible example of braiding, but it’s what you get when you have exactly 15 minutes to change, eat, finish the braid and get out the door and down the street to “mom’s night” at preschool. So, be really sloppy when you do this too. Or at least have time to roll the dough right and fix your mistake. OR just flop the long part on top and cut a few slits in it to vent it. This would have been (1) faster, (2) easier and (3) looked better because I completely messed it up.
Then slide it on your baking sheet. I used a flexible cutting board to help it over to a baking stone. If you don’t have a stone, you should consider putting a layer of a cornmeal down before placing your bread on top. This will help prevent sticking to the sheet. A tablespoon or so should do. Then stick this back in the oven and let it rise again for one hour.
(This is where Ole takes over and I go to mom’s night at preschool.) After your bread rises, preheat the oven to 400ºF. While the oven preheats, beat one egg yolk and one tablespoon of water. Brush the top of the loaf with the egg mixture and place in the oven.
After 45 minutes in the oven, it’s time to eat. There is life after ham dinner.
Life happens to be wonderful with soup and a salad.