As a parent, I’m well acquainted with having to let my kids down on occasion. I tell myself it’s for noble reasons when I have to cancel plans due to snow storms, icy road conditions, keeping a sick kid home so we don’t share the proverbial wealth with the community; the average stuff that any family in the snowbelt deals with from December through March or even April during exceptional winters. The nobility of my reasoning is not always commensurate with their ability to handle disappointment with equanimity, though. I get it. As my mom says, “They’re young. I hated feeling disappointed when I was young. I hadn’t felt it much. I needed some experience unfortunately to get better at it.”
High on the list of ways to assuage my boys when I’ve had to disappoint them in one way or another is any combination of bread, cheese, and heat. I had to tell my three eldest they couldn’t go to youth group last night because of inclement weather (ICE COATED ROADS). They were less than thrilled. They were even less pleased when I said that they might have to skip the Sky Zone field trip today because of the weather and roads. Enter Supreme Pizza Party Bread. It’s guaranteed to crack a smile on the face of even the crankiest disappointee while they’re eating. All it takes to make these smiles happen are a loaf of good Italian bread, some extra virgin olive oil, a scandalous amount of shredded mozzarella, some diced pepperoni, sliced green onions, and two little bitty baby bell peppers of any colour (or half of a full sized one.)
The toughest part of the whole Supreme Pizza Party Bread is the part where you slice the bread into a grid and this really isn’t that tough at all if you have a long serrated knife. You pry open the grid, spritz or brush some olive oil in there, cram ridiculous quantities of shredded cheese into the bread grid, stuff the diced pepperoni into the grid, then scatter the green onions and bell pepper over the top before wrapping in foil and baking until the cheese is fully melted. Open the foil to expose the top of the bread and pop back into the oven until there are some lightly golden brown toasted cheese spots on top then VOILA! Instant smiles… Or at least a rapid thaw if their attitudes are as iced over as the roads!
- The longest part of the Supreme Pizza Party Bread is the grid making process. Begin by slicing the bread lengthwise every 3/4-inch or so (about 4 or 5 times for the average Italian bread loaf), carefully avoiding cutting all the way through the bottom crust. Italian bread usually has a sturdy lower crust, making it easier to keep it intact, but take your time. After you’ve sliced it lengthwise, turn the bread loaf 90° and slice crosswise the same way, every 3/4-inch or so.
- After you’ve sliced your grid, use your hands to gently pry the grid open making it easier to spray or brush with olive oil then cram in goodies.
- Really work on stuffing that cheese deep into the bread grid. That’s part of what makes the final Supreme Pizza Party Bread so gooey and comforting.
- The pepperoni can be added a little more haphazardly, but I do like to stuff a few pieces down into the cheese. It should be a treasure hunt when you pull those pieces of bread off, full of melted, gooey cheese and studded with flavourful pepperoni.
- I scatter the diced bell peppers and green onions over the top rather than stuffing it into the bread mainly because by that time I’m feeling lazy but also because I like the look of the colourful stuff on top. Truth.
- Bake it until it’s melty, but the real gorgeousness of the finished Supreme Pizza Party Bread comes from taking the loaf out of the oven after it’s fully melty and opening the foil to expose the top allowing the cheese to become golden brown in areas.
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Supreme Pizza Party Bread
- 1 loaf Italian bread 1 to 2 pounds
- spray olive oil or extra virgin olive oil for brushing
- 2 to 3 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1/3 cup diced pepperoni
- 2 green onions trimmed of the root end and thinly sliced
- 2 mini bell peppers or half of an orange or yellow bell pepper any colour, diced
Optional but tasty:
- Pizza sauce for dipping.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Slice the bread lengthwise and cross wise into a 3/4-inch grid, keeping the base crust of the bread intact. Lay the bread on a large sheet of heavy duty foil. Pry the bread grid open gently with your fingers and spritz lightly with spray olive oil or brush with olive oil. Stuff the cheese into the cuts in between and around the pieces of bread, reserving about 1/2 cup for the top of the bread. Sprinkle with the pepperoni dices, followed by the green onions and diced bell peppers. Wrap the foil up around the bread and crimp the top and ends. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted.
Remove the foil wrapped bread from the oven and leave the ends crimped, but open it so the top of the bread is exposed. Return the packet to the oven and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes or until there are some golden brown areas of cheese. Serve while still hot by itself or with your favourite pizza sauce.