Saturday, 26 January 2013

Bacon and cheddar bread

My very one sided love affair with Paul Hollywood continues. I keep browsing through his book and I want to bake every single bread in there. I thought this was a really nice and manly bread, so I baked it for my Chief Culinary Consultant. Come to think of it, I have been cooking loads of things with bacon lately. Like this man pleasing chicken, and these amazing cooked sprouts. Guess that's what happens when you hang out with a guy. No wonder I have put on a buttload of weight. Literally. Oh and a tummyload as well. But much more important than my ever expanding physical presence, this is without a doubt the best bread I have ever made. And after doing proper yeasted doughs a few times, I'm not at all intimidated by them anymore. It's not at all as hard as you would think. And kneading the dough can be quite relaxing.
Manly bread (makes two loaves):
400 g strong white bread flour
100 g strong wholemeal bread flour
30 g softened butter
10 g instant yeast
1 tsp salt (the original recipe says 10 g salt, which would be around 1.5 tsp, but I think with the cheese and bacon, this was more than enough)
330 ml water
6 rashers of bacon
150 g cheddar
The howto:
Mix flour, yeast, salt, butter and three quarters of the water. Mix with your fingers until all ingredients are incorporated. Add more water if needed. You want a soft but not soggy dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5-10 minutes until the dough is soft and forms a smooth skin. Let rise for at least an hour. In the meantime, cook the bacon, let cool and chop finely. Grate the cheese. When the dough has at least doubled in size, punch the air out of the dough, and knead in the cheese and bacon. Form into two loaves and slash deeply lengthwise. Let rise for another hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. When loaves are done rising, bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Eat warm.
The verdict:
This is the first time I think I have managed to make really great bread. The texture of the dough turned out perfect. I didin't use all the water, but the dough was still nice and soft. I took my time kneading it, and actually, it's not all that hard work if the texture of the dough is right. You need to put some effort into it, but it's really enjoyable. Also, the dough didn't stick to the table or my hands at all. And I could really feel the change in the dough as the gluten started to develop, and the dough became more stretchy and smooth. It rose beautifully. This could also be because I bough myself a fresh pack of yeast as I wasn't so sure my previous one wasn't going a bit ancient on me. I'm really bad with throwing away any cooking ingredients, but I guess old yeast is really useless, so give yourself a chance to succeed with yeasted doughs and buy fresh yeast. Also, remember that not all dry yeasts are equal. Active yeast is different from instant (or bread machine) yeast. Active yeast needs to be activated in warm liquid to make it functional, whereas instant yeast can be mixed directly with the dry ingredients. For more info see here

I managed to bake the bread nicely, it got a golden crust, and it was really soft and spongy with a bit of a crust. The bacon and cheddar are both strong flavours, so it was really tasty. I served it with a side of omelette, and it seemed to go down well with the target audience. And I loved it too, I love bacon so much that I often think I should have been born a man. Although I do love my chocolate too... maybe I am some sort of hermaphroditic life form?

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