Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Maple Bacon Bread - yes, I went there

 In a little over two years, I have posted about 250 bread-related posts. Nearly 200 of those have been original recipes. No, I didn't count them. It's based on the way I label my posts.

Two. Hundred. That's a LOT of bread recipes. Okay, some were crackers and flatbreads and quickbreads, and similar non-loafy things. But they're still in the bread family.

And that doesn't count the breads that I've made in those two years that I didn't post about. Because I don't post every single bread. This explains why I buy yeast by the pound. No worries about it going stale here.

After than many loaves (and other shapes) of bread, you might think that I would run out of ideas. That the proverbial well would run dry. I'll admit that sometimes I have to give it some thought. What haven't I made lately? Is it time for an alternative flour? Should I play around with shapes?

But once I start brainstorming, I usually end up with two or three or more ideas that I want to work on so I can post about them. There's always something new to be made.

This time, the idea started with bacon. Yes, bacon. The universal cheater food that makes any dish an instant hit with the judges on food competition shows. Except when the judges decide it's pandering.

But it's not like I throw bacon around here willy-nilly. But now, it's time. Bacon bread. Or, more appropriately, Bacon!!! Bread.

But bacon wasn't enough. I decided that I wanted just a little more. Maple. Yep, instead of sugar, I used maple syrup. And to enhance the maple flavor even more, I added just a bit of maple extract.

Are you drooling yet?

This bread would be the perfect vehicle for a scrambled egg sandwich, don't you think? Or French toast. Or, a tomato and mayo sandwich.

Maple Bacon Bread

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 1/4 cups (14 1/8 ounces) bread flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon maple extract (optional)
1/2 pound bacon, cooked until crisp, crumbled
2 tablespoons bacon fat

When you cook the bacon, make sure you reserve 2 tablespoons of the fat for the bread. I suggest cooking it so that it's super-crisp and crumbly.

Put the water, yeast, maple syrup, and bread flour in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the bread hook. Knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Add the salt, maple extract (if using) crumbled bacon, and bacon fat. Continue kneading until all the ingredients are well integrated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment or sprinkle with cornmeal, and flour your work surface.

Turn out the dough and press it gently to degas. Form it into a tight ball, sealing the seam at the bottom. Place the dough, seam-side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Remove the plastic wrap, slash the loaf as desired, and bake at 350 degrees until nicely browned, about 35 minutes.

Move the bread to a rack to cool completely before slicing.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.