Bacon (or Vegan) Bread

Baking, Cook, Double Duty, Try This at Home

This post comes to us courtesy of Chi Dixon, blogger at Chi’s Food.

 

I realize I’m about to make a strange statement, but here it is anyway: this recipe is for vegan white bread. Yep, that’s right, VEGAN.

 

Now admittedly, not being vegan, I went and completely corrupted things by adding one of the most non-vegan ingredients ever — bacon. But in my defense, I have vegan friends who have admitted they’ve considered cheating on veganism with bacon . . .  and c’mon, it’s bacon. If you’re an omnivore like me and you’re presented with a plate of bacon . . . well, let’s just say it takes a stronger person than I am to resist the siren call.

 

But back to the bread. I used to be intimidated by bread.  Never mind my attempt to avoid carbs — the very thought of baking bread made me think I’d rather walk through a blizzard to buy a single slice than try to bake a loaf at home.

 

Needless to say, it took me a moment to get my head around this stunt.

 

So I did some research and looked at about a dozen different recipes, trying to learn the major tips and tricks and find a recipe I could deal with. And I cobbled the bits together.

 

To name a few: make sure the room is warm when the bread is rising, make it rise twice and use cooking spray instead of flour to keep the dough from sticking when you knead it. Plus, I had to find a way to make a loaf of bread without the KitchenAid stand mixer that I long for. The fact is, I live in New York, I have a New York kitchen, with New York kitchen counter space (read: NONE). I don’t have anywhere to put one of those sweet babies no matter how badly I want one. And I DO want one.

 

So I had to work this out manually, and it was so much easier than I thought! The result is a loaf of bread that’s dense and chewy but still fluffy with a slight salty sweetness and a heady yeast aroma. It’s hard not to eat the whole loaf at once . . . and that’s even before you add the porcine panacea that is double-smoked bacon . . .

 

Bacon Bread


Part 1:

1 packet active dry yeast (1 1/2 Tbs.)

1/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 cups bread flour

3 cups very warm water (I used hot water from the tap)

 

Part 2:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I actually used 1/4 cup, plus 1/4 cup wheat flour just because I had it around the house. And it made me feel like I was somehow making this bread healthier. Yes, I am aware I lie to myself.)

1/2 cup canola oil

1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. salt (make that just 1 Tbs. if you’re making the bacon version)

5 additional cups of bread flour (possibly 4, but have 5 ready)

1/2 cup diced bacon (or more, more is OK, too) (I use Schaller and Weber double smoked because that’s what’s available to me, but there are some other spectacular shops out there that turn out heavenly bacon)

Nonstick cooking spray

 

In a bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, 2 1/2 cups bread flour and 3 cups warm water and whisk vigorously until smooth (like pancake batter), about 2 minutes. Add the 1/2 cup flour (or the all-purpose/wheat flour blend), canola oil and salt. Whisk again until fully incorporated, about 4 minutes by hand. 

Next, add the additional bread flour. I’ve made this bread several times, and it was 5 cups almost every time. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, making sure to incorporate it completely before adding more; you don’t want pockets of flour in your dough.

I used a spatula at this point to make mixing easier, then after the third cup of flour, I dove in with my hands, as the dough starts to form and it’s easier to manipulate by hand. Between the fourth and fifth cups of flour, the dough starts to form a ball and pull away from the bowl entirely. Keep mixing and kneading until the dough forms a smooth ball. 

Once you’ve got all the flour incorporated, keep kneading for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until you’ve got a slightly tacky, but not sticky, ball of dough. You can tell when it’s ready when you can set it on a cutting board and it doesn’t stick.

Put the dough into a bowl greased with nonstick cooking spray and cover with a damp cloth. The dough will rise better if it’s in a warm spot with no drafts. I’ve been running my air conditioner like my life depended on it, so I turned the stove on and put the bowl on the stovetop near the vents with great results! 

 

 

Let the dough rise to about double its size — it should take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes, depending on the temperature of the room and the humidity. You’ll know it’s risen as far as it’s going to go by poking it; when it’s completely risen, the place you poke will remain indented. 

Cook the bacon while you’re waiting for the dough to rise, drain on paper towels and set aside.

 

 

 

When the dough has risen, you need to punch it down once and prepare it for a second rise. Just stick your hand in the middle and push the dough down. 

Turn it out onto a surface sprayed with nonstick cooking spray (counter-less me used a greased cookie sheet) and divide the dough into 2 equal parts (don’t worry about being perfect here; my halves are always off). Prepare 2 loaf pans by spraying them with nonstick cooking spray.

If you’re vegan, follow the steps here, skipping the “add bacon” part. Starting with half of the dough, roll it out to about 1/2 inch thick, roughly the same width as your bread pan is long. Spread the cooked bacon chunks over the dough evenly, then roll the loaf back up like a jelly roll and place it in one of the loaf pans. I like mine seam-side down, but seam-side up creates an interesting effect. Repeat with the other half of your dough. 

Cover the loaves with a damp dish towel for a second rise (about 30 minutes). The bread should come up over the edge of your pans.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F. After the dough has risen the second time, place both loaf pans on the center rack and bake until the tops are golden brown (usually between 28 and 35 minutes; ovens vary). Remove from the oven and pop the loaves out onto a cooling rack. Makes 2 loaves. 

I personally don’t seem to be able to resist tearing into the loaves before they’re fully cooled.

 

Even if you’re not vegan, or if bacon just isn’t your thing, you can replace the diced bacon with cheddar, Parmesan or Gruyère cheese, cinnamon sugar, Nutella or maybe blueberries? Be creative!

 

Serving suggestions:

  • Toast a couple of slices and serve them with avocado, lettuce and fresh tomatoes for a twist on a BLT.
  • Cut thick slices and dip them in egg batter for unforgettable French toast.
  • Top them with a dollop of Nutella for a savory-sweet snack.

 

Enjoy!

 

About the author: Chi didn’t realize she could cook until she was well into her 20’s – then she discovered that it was one of the things she liked doing the most! As a top 100 contestant on MasterChef season 2, Chi discovered her hobby was more of a passion and has been exploring this passion since. Her objective is to de-mystify cooking and make it approachable and fun for anyone with the desire to set foot in the kitchen.

5 comments about “Bacon (or Vegan) Bread

  1. KC Quaretti

    Chi, you have done it again! This bread looks over the top delicious! I don’t think there is anything you make I would not love to try! Amazing!

    Reply
  2. Kendall Allen

    Amazingly scrumptious. And, as all converts know, bacon is in fact the gateway meat. Many a vegan has crossed back over, in its waft.

    Reply
  3. JULIA

    Yiami….yiami… sounds, looks…. so delicious… I can’t wait to do it myself!!!!!!

    Reply
  4. JULIA

    Yiami….yiami… sounds, looks…. so delicious… I can’t wait to do it myself!!!!!!

    Reply

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