February 12, 2012

Bacon cheese bread (no-knead method)

Recently I've been dabbling with making bread, mostly with the water roux (tangzhong) method to make soft, fluffy, Japanese-style bread (more on this in another post), but this no-knead bacon cheese bread came out so well, it was devoured by during a craft beer tasting that we had last night in Hong Kong.

It's a crusty, chewy country bread that has a hit of salt from the bacon and cheese, and a hint of zing from the herbs and flaked red pepper. I adapted the recipe from Jim Lahey's book My Bread (of Sullivan Street Bakery and New York Times' Mark Bittman no-knead bread recipe fame). His recipe is itself inspired by traditional Italian lard/ciccioli bread. (Lard might sound scary, but it really makes for a lighter crumb and richer bread, similar as to the use of lard in pie crusts.)

This strong-tasting bread goes well with beers or ales. Recommended with North Coast Pranqster (a Belgian-style golden ale) or Baird Beer Numazu Lager.

Side note: Both of these beers were at the beer tasting I attended, and if you're in Hong Kong, you can get these beers and more through Hop Leaf, the new craft beer distributor that I'm involved in. (end promo!)

A few people have asked me for the recipe for this bread - I guess the combination of bacon and cheese is always a winner. If you're vegetarian (but not vegan), simply omit the bacon to make an equally delicious cheese bread. In the same vein, if you're lactose-intolerant, you can omit the cheese and keep the bacon.

Here's the recipe. It sounds a bit convoluted and troublesome, but if you break it down into steps, it's actually extremely simple and there's very little actual work involved. Mostly it's just waiting, as it uses the long-rise/no-knead method.