Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bacon Bread

This is a variation of the Bread with Olives recipe. The whole recipe is reproduced here (including identical steps), so you don't have to go back and forth between both of them.

I'm baking this one tonight, so I'll make a nice braid and post the photo later.

Bacon Bread

1 spoon (large) yeast
1 Kg flour (2 lb approx)
1/2 cup of olive oil
250 grs (1/2 pound) of bacon
oregano or cumin or rosemary or your preferred condiment (I recommend cumin)
2 ice trays worth of ice
Optional: 1 whole egg (to paint the bread crust before entering the oven)

Pour the yeast in a large bowl with 1/2 cup of water of warm water, dissolve evenly and let stand for a couple of minutes. Pour in the flour and add water until you get a soft dough, it must be homogeneous and wet, light, easy to stir with a wooden spoon.

Now there are variations. You can let the dough stand in a warm place for a couple of hours if you must absolutely have it today. If you can wait one day (or plan ahead one day) I recommend letting the dough stand for 24 to 36 hours (with a moist clean cloth on top), it will give you a tastier bread with a better, firmer crust and a soft inside, much like French bread. You can even set apart a small amount (1/2 Kg) of dough (poolish) and use it as basis for the dough of your next bread 2 or 3 days down the road.

Now that the dough has stand for a few hours (has a strong smell of yeast), add 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the bacon sliced in small pieces, I try to go as small as matchsticks, and the condiment of choice as well as the olive oil. The mix is again easy to stir with a wooden spoon, if it's not... add water, if you add to much water, add flour until you get it right. Stir for ten minutes (until the dough starts making farting noises).

Turn on the oven at maximum temperature, with the heat directed to the center.

Put the dough in your kneading table and add flour until it's easy to handle and doesn't stick to your fingers. Knead the dough lightly for 10 minutes.

Form the breads, in the shape of your choice (again a braid gets the most attention). Put them on the oven tray, which was previously covered with butter, flour or aluminum foil.

This is the optional part, some people prefer their bread with the natural light tan that the oven gives. If you'd rather go for a darker and brighter upper crust, put the egg in a teacup, stir it until it looks even, add a little salt and oregano. Paint the bread with this mix using your fingers, this paint will help them get a nice tan when they are fully baked.

Make small parallel slits on top of the bread with a sharp knife. so that the crust will crack along this lines when our bread rises.

Ok, Put the tray with our bread into the oven, at medium height. In the lower position put a deep tray with all the ice cubes (please be careful and use a large tray so that water doesn't run of the tray, that could put out the oven). We use ice to have a moist atmosphere retarded in time so that the crust stays soft and doesn't fully form until late in the baking process. You can also spray water but opening the oven is not good for the bread.

In 20 or 25 minutes you should move the flames of the oven to the sides so that they start baking the upper crust of our bread. And in 15 to 20 minutes more the bread will be ready. Insert a small stick (like a wooden sushi chopstick or similar) it should come out dry and clean from the center of the bread.

Hope you will enjoy it. This bread with cream cheese is awesome.

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