Bacon Bread

Joined Oct 9, 2008
Oh my lord, you must try this. I'm not one of these people who think bacon is the best thing in the universe, but this is amazing. It’s a variation on Rose Levy Beranbaum’s prosciutto ring, from her Bread Bible, derived from a recipe from Zito’s bakery in New York. I did it with bacon, and I am working hard to hold myself back from eating the entire loaf at a sitting — my wife and kids will want some too!

Start by cutting about 7 or 8 rashers of excellent thick bacon in ½" or so chunks, then throw them in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat, stirring and turning often, until they are just barely golden. You don’t want them fully crispy — they’re going to heat more in the bread. Strain, and reserve both the bacon and the rendered fat.
    In a stand-mixer bowl, whisk 340 grams high-quality all-purpose flour or bread flour, 21 grams honey, and 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast (not active rise: you want the “bread machine” type). Add a scant ½ teaspoon of coarsely cracked black pepper if desired — my kids hate it, so I omitted it, but I can see that it would go very well. When this is all whisked together, add 5 grams salt and whisk together. Now add 236 grams room-temperature water and process with the dough hook for 1 minute, at lowest speed, until everything is moist and sticky. Turn up the heat to medium, #4 on a KitchenAid, and process 7 minutes. The dough should be tacky but not sticky; my humidity is currently about 100% so it was a bit sticky and I added a little flour and processed another 30 seconds. Add the cooked bacon and process at lowest speed 1minute until evenly incorporated.
    Scrape out onto a lightly floured board or counter, dust lightly on top with flour, and cover with the empty mixer bowl. Wait 20 minutes for the gluten to relax.
    Roll-stretch the dough to a rope about 18 inches long, then form into a ring, overlapping a couple of inches. Pinch the ends together gently to make it hold. Put it on a Silpat, cover with oiled plastic or a big plastic container or something and let it rise an hour.
    While it rises, put an oven stone in the oven on the bottom level, put the bottom of your broiler pan on the floor of the oven, and turn the oven to 450F.
    After an hour, put ½ cup of ice cubes in a cup. Brush the bread all over with some rendered bacon fat. Open the oven, put the Silpat with the bread on the stone, pull out the pan and dump the ice in it, put that back, and shut the door. Be gentle, but the faster the better.
    After 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 400, then turn the bread and remove the Silpat using a towel and a big spatula — this is all one clean motion, and leaves the bread sitting on the stone. Continue baking 15 minutes. Then turn off the oven, crack the door open, and let sit 5 minutes. Remove the bread, brush with more bacon fat, and let cool completely on a rack.
    To eat, eat. It will kick your butt. It’s fabulous.

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