The inspiration for this recipes was Pan Bagnat, the traditional Nice “sandwich,” in which the top of a round loaf would be sliced off and some of the crumb hollowed out, mixed with tuna, olives, anchovies, etc. then spooned back in and the “lid” put on top. Later variations are often made with ham and cheese, and sometimes peppers layered up neatly inside the bread “shell,” but I thought it would be fun to stuff the ingredients between the slices of a whole loaf, and bake it. We often make this for lunch. and everyone loves it warm, but it is also a great picnic showstopper. You can carry it with you, still in its foil, then just open it up, drizzle with oil and let everyone help themselves. Although I have suggested using prosciutto and mozzarella, which melts very well, I always associate pain surprise with Provence, as I like to make it when I am there on holiday with the family, but using local cured ham and cheese instead.
Crumb: Bake Brilliant Bread
by Richard Bertinet
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Put the loaf of bread on a sheet of parchment paper large enough to wrap the bread. Slice into the bread, but not all the way through, leaving the loaf connected at the base. You need to cut deep enough into the bread to be able to open out the loaf, and fill between the “slices.”
3. Stuff each slot in the bread with the ham, mozzarella, tomatoes, shallot, garlic, and herbs. Season well.
4. Use the parchment paper to lift the bread onto a baking pan. Drizzle plenty of olive oil over the loaf, focusing on the crevices, and add a few capers if you like.
5. Enclose the loaf fully in the parchment paper, and then wrap it in foil to make a tight parcel.
6. Put the wrapped bread into the preheated oven, and bake for 15 minutes, then remove the pan, and open the top of the foil and parchment paper. Return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes, until golden brown on top.
7. Remove from the oven and let everyone help themselves to chunks.
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