A very tasty loaf that is delicious as an antipasto, or as part of a picnic. What is especially delicious about this loaf is that it stays wonderfully moist.
50g (2oz) stale white bread
100ml (3½fl oz) milk
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
200g (7oz) speck or other smoked cured ham, thickly sliced and cubed
2 large red onions, coarsely chopped
6 fresh chives, chopped
6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 tbsp plain white flour
50g (2oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1½ tsp baking powder
Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
Unsalted butter for greasing
2 tbsp dried white breadcrumbs
Tear up the bread, put it in a bowl, pour over the milk and leave to stand until required. Meanwhile, put the oil, speck or other ham, onions and herbs in a frying pan and fry over a medium heat, stirring often, until the onions are soft. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Strain the bread from the milk, reserving the milk.
Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them thoroughly, then add the drained bread, the flour, Parmesan and baking powder, then stir in the onion and ham mixture, and season with salt and pepper.
Thoroughly butter a 1 litre (1¾ pint) loaf tin. Sprinkle the base and sides with the dried breadcrumbs, then spoon in the onion mixture and level the surface. Place in a preheated oven, 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4, for 40-45 minutes until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 10 minutes before turning out the onion loaf and slicing thinly. Serve at once, with a cheese platter or some cured meats, such as prosciutto or bresaola.