Neapolitan Bread

This has nothing to do with Naples; it's a bread version of the ice cream (which I think is a weird take on spumoni?). It's also evidence I am a genius, with a little help from Cam and my sister. This bread is fantastic.

Cam came up with the idea of a neapolitan bread and mentioned it in the comments of my blueberry fougasse post. We then kicked the idea around, figuring out the details of how to best make it, and this afternoon I finally went ahead and baked some off.

(Also, to protect my foodie street cred, I must point out that that isn't my Prego tomato sauce in the background.)

I used the Japanese sweet bread recipe for basic proportions of ingredients, but adjusted them so I wouldn't have to deal with 5/8ths of a cup of anything. I made the dough all together, then split it into three pieces, added flavours, and followed my sister's suggestion of doing a braid for the shaping. I had been thinking of either a swirl or doing three lumps side-by-side in a loaf pan so it would look like the ice cream.

Isn't that pretty? I'm so pleased with it. It's also delicious (especially the vanilla parts). The strawberry isn't as flavourful as it could be, but I'm beginning to suspect that's what happens with fruit breads. Freeze-dried strawberries ground to a powder might work well though. Here is the recipe I used. Be warned, it makes a giant loaf.

Neapolitan Bread

Recipe by the Foppish Baker

4 teaspoons yeast
1 2/3 cups warm water
5 cups bread flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons milk
2 eggs
5 tablespoons butter, softened

For the vanilla dough
Seeds scraped from two vanilla beans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon flour

For the chocolate dough
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon water

For the strawberry dough
1 cup frozen strawberries, defrosted
1 cup flour

Egg wash
One egg, beaten
One tablespoon water

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let sit 5-10 minutes. Stir in two cups of the flour, then add the sugar and salt. Add two more cups of flour, then add the milk and eggs. Knead in the final cup of flour and the butter. You may need to add a bit more flour to make a dough that is manageable, but slightly sticky.

Divide the dough into three sections: two that are about 2/5ths the total, and one that is about 1/5th.

For the vanilla: Stir the vanilla beans, vanilla extract, and flour together into a paste then knead this into one of the larger portions of dough. It takes a long time to work it through evenly. Add more flour if needed to make a smooth and tacky, but not sticky, dough.

For the chocolate: Form a paste of the cocoa and water, then knead this into the other large portion of dough. This also takes a while. Add more water or flour if necessary.

For the strawberry: Defrost one cup of frozen strawberries. Pour them and their liquid into a large bowl and use your hands to squish them into a sort of lazy man's puree. This leads to there being some strawberry chunks in the dough, like all the best strawberry ice creams have. Plus it saves washing the food processor. Cut the smaller portion of the original dough into six pieces and mix them and one cup of flour into the strawberries. Add more flour and knead to form a dough of the same consistency as the other two.

Let all three doughs rise in separate, oiled bowls covered with plastic wrap for about two hours, or until about one and a half times their original size.

Degas the dough and roll out into ropes. Braid these together on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Let rise for 45 minutes, or until it has increased about one and a half times.

Brush with egg wash.

Preheat the oven to 400*F and bake for 20 minutes, or until dark brown. Lower the temperature to 350*F and bake an additional 30 minutes, until it sounds hollow, rotating halfway through for even baking.

Let cool on a rack, slice, enjoy.