Italian Cheese & Ham Bread Cake

“I was first introduced to this recipe by my friend Carrie at a barbecue around 15 years ago. I remember liking it so much that I’m not sure anyone else managed to get a slice. Ever since then I begged her to make it every time I visited before finally taking the plunge and baking my own. I still think that the first loaf all those years ago was the best one I’ve eaten, but this recipe, tweaked over time, gives delicious results. Making the dough is a little time consuming, but it’s the perfect thing to make on a lazy Sunday to eat throughout the start of the week.”


Prep time: 30 mins (plus 1-2 hours proving time)
Cooking time: 30 mins
Serves: 12 slices


500g strong white bread flour
15g fast action yeast
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
400ml cold water
200g mozzarella
7 slices of Parma ham


Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt, yeast and olive oil. Make sure that the yeast and salt are on separate sides of the bowl. Add 300ml of the water and stir with a wooden spoon to mix everything together.

If you’re using a stand mixer with a dough hook, the next part will be easy. If not, you at least get a good workout.

Mix on a medium setting for 10 minutes, slowly adding the remaining water. After 10 minutes, add another tbsp of olive oil and mix for another 5 minutes.

Knead the dough by hand in a large bowl for 5 minutes, slowly adding the remaining water. Use you hands to stretch out out the dough and fold back into a ball. Repeat this process for another five minutes. Oil a work surface and tip the oil out onto it. Continue to knead for further five minutes before returning to the bowl.

The dough should be wetter than normal bread dough and sticky to the touch. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and leave to prove for 1-2 hours so that the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan.

Oil a work surface and tip out the dough. Form the dough into a rough sausage shape and cut into 3 pieces of equal size.

Take the first piece of dough and form into a rough disc with your hands. Lay the dough ate the bottom of a spring form cake tin and push out to the edges with your fingers. Lay Half of the Parma ham slices into the dough, leaving a couple of cm at the edges. Tear up half of the mozzarella and sprinkle over the ham, followed by a tbsp of roughly chopped rosemary leaves.

Stretch out the second piece of dough and lay on top, pushing out again so that the dough meets the edges of the tin, completely covering the filling. Layer up the ham, mozzarella and rosemary as before and cover with the final disc of dough. Sprinkle sea salt and chopped rosemary over the top and pierce the dough several times with a fork.

Lay the damp tea towel over the cake tin and leave to prove for a final time for 30 minutes. After proving, drizzle with a little olive oil and place in middle of the oven to cook for 30 minutes. On removing it from the oven the bread should be golden brown on top and will come away from the cake tin cleanly, leaving a seamless cake-shaped loaf.

Slice into wedges and serve as you would a piece of cake.

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