How do you get people to polish off nearly 4 lb of bread in an evening? In this case, it’s all about the spice and bacon.
Some of my favourite things about baking bread are being able to decide exactly what to put in it, and how I want it to turn out (or attempt to control the latter, anyway). These also happen to be my labmates’ favourite things about my baking too – besides the fact that I’m addicted to baking bread, and that I share all of my baked goods with them, of course.
My labmate Tilley designed this particular formula for his birthday bread, which is chock full of bite from spicy peppers and manliness from all the bacon, cheddar and potatoes. I didn’t have any of the final product because I was already in tears after trying a small cube of the habanero cheddar, but it’s apparently very, very good. So good, we’ve named it the ultimate Man Bread.
Tilley’s Ultimate Man Bread
Makes two very large loaves
For the liquid sourdough starter:*
|liquid starter (100% hydration)||2.4||69|
|water, room temperature||1/2 cup||4||114|
|unbleached bread flour||3/4 cup + 2 tbsp||4||114|
*if you don’t have a sourdough starter, use the following instead:
|active dry yeast||pinch|
|water, room temperature||2/3 cup||5.2||149|
|unbleached bread flour||1 cup + 3 tbsp||5.2||149|
Liquid sourdough starter directions:
1.Place the liquid starter (or active dry yeast) in a bowl. Pour the water over the starter (or active dry yeast) and stir to dissolve. Add the flour and mix until thoroughly hydrated.
2. Place in a bowl and cover. Let stand at room temperature for about 24 hours before using in the final dough.
For the final dough:
|unpeeled red potatoes, coarsely chopped||1 to 2 medium||8||225|
|potato water, lukewarm||3/4 cup||6||170|
|all of the liquid sourdough starter||10.5||298|
|unbleached bread flour||4 cups||18||510|
|active dry yeast||2 tsp||0.22||6|
|salt**||1 1/2 tsp||0.35||10|
|fresh scallions, chopped||3 tbsp||0.7||20|
|habanero cheddar cheese, cut into ~1/4″ cubes||5||142|
|jalapeño pepper, finely minced***||1||0.6||17|
|thick-sliced bacon, coarsely chopped||3.8||108|
**This appears to be less salt than expected, but I reduced it to account for the saltiness of the bacon.
***Remember to wear gloves while mincing the jalapeño!
Tilley’s Ultimate Man Bread Directions:
Boil the potatoes. In a medium saucepan, bring about 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the coarsely chopped potatoes and simmer until soft. Drain, reserving the water. Let the potatoes cool completely while you prepare the jalapeño and bacon.
Pan fry the bacon and jalapeño. In another saucepan, fry the pieces of bacon just until they are starting to turn crispy. Add the minced jalapeño and continue to fry for an additional minute or two. Set aside (including all of the bacon grease) in a small bowl to cool while you start to make the dough.
Mix. In a large bowl, mix together the sourdough starter, half of the flour, half of the lukewarm potato water, yeast, and the cooked potatoes until evenly incorporated. Try to mash the potatoes into the dough at this time. (I left very small bits of potato in the dough.)
Rest. 30 minutes.
Mix. Add the rest of the flour, lukewarm potato water and salt. Continue mixing until a shaggy ball of dough is formed.
Knead for 6 to 8 minutes. Add the scallions, cheese, bacon and minced jalapeño towards the end of kneading. The dough will be on the sticky side and barely come together with all of the additions, but should still be manageable.
Bulk fermentation. 90 minutes at room temperature, or until about double its original size, with stretch and folds at 30 min. and 60 min.
Prepare a sheet pan lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
Divide and preshape. 2 pieces as lightly shaped boules.
Shape. Shape into bâtards (tight ovals).
Final proof. 60 minutes at room temperature, or until about 1 1/2 times its original size. (I shaped mine in brotformen, or in baskets with the loaves placed seam side up to help them keep their shape.)
Score. 2 slashes nearly parallel to the long axis of the loaves.
Bake. Bake in a preheated 450F / 230C oven with steam for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the loaves halfway through baking if necessary. I actually baked mine in a cold oven (no preheating) cranked up to 500F with a cup of boiling water in the bottom of the oven, and then turned it down to 450F when it had reached 450F. This cold-start method will extend the baking time so watch until the crust turns golden brown, or until the loaves register about 200F/93C in the center.
Cool for at least 45 minutes before slicing and serving.
* * *
I’m sending this loaf to Susan at Wild Yeast for YeastSpotting, to Jude at Apple Pie, Patis, and Pâté for giving me starting material for building the formula, and LDT for his birthday bread challenge. Happy birthday, Tilley!