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Feb 3, 2010 07:54 AM

Bread to make a muffuletta-where to find

I'm making muffulettas for a Super Bowl party. A friend brought me jars of olive salad from Central Grocery in New Orleans, I'm getting the meats & cheeses from Litteri, but now my problem is the bread. I don't know of any place in the Metro area that makes a close approximation to the bread you find in NoLa. I'm familiar with the bread at Firehook, Marvelous Market, and Best Buns, but it isn't quite right. Anyone know of anything? I know I'm not going to find anything that's exactly right, but a firm, 10" round loaf, with thick soft crust would do.

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  1. I'd suggest going to the Dupont Market at see what you like at Atwater's. They offer an array of loaves AND you know it'll be fresh and delicious!

    1. I know the bread and it doesn't exist in or around DC. The closest approximation is the round foccacia that some Whole Foods have, but it's far too oily. Muffaletta bread at Napoleons and Central Grocer has no oil.

      The closest approximation to the taste/texture of that bread is the rectangular lavash bread that some middle eastern grocers carry. It's thicker than the lavash at Whole Foods; you bake it in a hot oven for 5-7 minutes to get it crispy. It's not round like muffaletta bread or as thick or dense, but I've used it to make party sandwiches before and it has a good "bite" to it. Muffaletta bread, like bread for Cuban sandwiches, is impossible to find around DC.

      1. Good luck. I've not had any luck in the past. Any chance that you're a decent cook? In the past, I have had decent success making my own (see the recipe below). I don't think Atwaters is what you're looking for, my experience with their bread is that it's quite crusty/hard and would likely make for an extremely chewy sandwich.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Jason1

          I was thinking about making it myself, but I don't have enough confidence in my skills as a baker to try to make 4 loaves. I think monkeyrotica's suggestions are good ones. I know of a bakery in Del Ray (can't remember the name) that makes really good foccacia that isn't too oily. I think that's the closest thing I'm going to find. Although, it's rectangular and that just doesn't seem right.

          1. re: LGLnDC

            Caboose Cafe does ciabatta. Make sure they are making it on the day you want it, since they rotate what breads they make.

          2. In a pinch you could try a loaf of ciabatta.

            4 Replies
            1. re: MrsWheatie

              I found the name of the bakery in Del Ray--Gold Crust Baking Co. Anyone familiar with them? I've only been there once, but got foccacia that made very good paninis. I've heard they also have good ciabatta. I think I'll get a couple of both. I'll try to let go of my need for them to be round.

              1. re: LGLnDC

                They also supply the rolls for Al's Steaks in Del Ray.

                1. re: LGLnDC

                  Since you need 4 big loaves, you could maybe call them and ask if they can at least shape the loaves of ciabatta (or just regular Italian bread) into the 10" rounds for you? Not sure if they do custom loaves like that, but it's worth a shot. Or maybe you'll have more luck walking in and asking if they could bake those loaves while you wait? There is a Giant (albeit a small one) nearby if it would take a while and you want to kill two birds with one stone.

                2. re: MrsWheatie

                  MrsWheatie is on the right track. Ciabatta is as close as I've found in DC.
                  The problem is that it's never round, but c'est las vie. You're going to cut it anyway.

                  I use ciabatta rolls that I get from Fine Sweet Shop at Eastern Market. They're about 7 or 8 inches long X 3 inches wide. I cut them in half. The texture is closer to anything I've found including the crumb.
                  I noticed that Costco has ciabatta rolls, about the size of hamburger buns. Most of their baked goods are of good quality and I've been meaning to try them. You could make sort of muffaletta sliders? Small individual muffalettas.

                  The cold cuts are great at Litteri's for muffalettas. The capicola is wonderful and they've got the best mortadella in town.

                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    that's what came to my mind, too -- since they sell a muffaletta sandwich.

                    btw, trader joe's ciabatta rolls ain't bad at all. (and i'm not usually a fan of their bread).

                    1. re: alkapal


                      what is the origin of the word, anyone; and how did the sandwich come about and become so popular?

                      1. re: alkapal

                        No, but I hate when places have the full name and fail to deliver on anything close. I mean - at least call it a "muffie" or a "muffulikea" or a "muffanotta" or ....

                        1. re: Dennis S

                          i knew a muffie in college. she went on to grace the pages of town and country magazine. if only they knew! HA!

                        2. re: alkapal

                          Alka: according to Merriam Webster

                          Main Entry: muf·fu·let·ta
                          Variant(s): also muf·fa·let·ta \ˌmə-fə-ˈle-tə\
                          Function: noun
                          Etymology: probably from Italian dial., from Italian muffoletta little muff, diminutive of muffola muff, from French moufle, from Middle French

                          1. re: hill food

                            Wow - that a real Muffuletta was intended to be a small version of something else.

                            1. re: hill food

                              a little muff? as in, furry handwarmer typically worn by fashionable ladies riding in open air carriages in urban parks or the countryside during inclement or simply chilly weather?

                              1. re: alkapal

                                umm I'm not going to speculate further (whoops)

                                some also attribute a Germanic root, which sounds less likely, but there's a lot of linguistic back and forth between those languages.

                                1. re: hill food

                                  muffire is the italian infinitive for "to go moldy." the 1st, 2d, and 3rd person subjunctive conjugation is "muffa."

                                  the round, thin, dense loaf of sicilian origin is prone to go moldy quickly because of its unusually soft crust (as opposed to other sicilian breads) -- hence the name: muffoletta (spelling variation)!

                                  the sandwich name derives from the name of the bread. here's a history of muffoletta bread: ( and how it got to new orleans and made into a famous sandwich).

                                  >>>One day, the owner of the Central Grocery, Lupo Salvatore – himself a Sicilian immigrant -- made an agreement for the Sicilian baker to supply bread to the Central Grocery, which then re-sold the bread to its customers. With that agreement, the Sicilian baker became a wholesaler, and the workers no longer bought their bread from the Sicilian baker but from the Central Grocery, where the workers bought all their lunch ingredients: bread, meats, cheese and salad.

                                  In 1906, Lupo Salvatore decided to combine these ingredients into a sandwich. He decided to use the muffoletta bread, because of its ability to hold the filling without leaking. To make each sandwich, Lupo filled a muffoletta loaf with olive salad, meats and cheeses; then he wrapped the sandwich in paper; and then he sold it as a muffoletta sandwich, except that he misspelled the name as muffuletta. <<<<