Tilley’s Ultimate Man Bread


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

A transformation of Potato, Cheddar Cheese, and Chive Bread from Apple Pie, Patis, and Pâté

Makes two very large loaves

For the liquid sourdough starter:*


Volume Ounces Grams
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:

Volume Ounces Grams
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:


Volume Ounces Grams
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.

Ready for first rise

Ready for first rise: the gluten doesn't look very developed at this point, but we'll work on that by incorporating some stretch and folds during the bulk fermentation.

Bulk fermentation. 90 minutes at room temperature, or until about double its original size, with stretch and folds at 30 min. and 60 min.

After the first fold - see how the dough is starting to gain more volume and look like it's "coming together"?

After the first fold: see how the dough is starting to gain more volume and look like it's "coming together"?

After the second fold - the dough should now have even more strength and volume to it.

After the second fold: the dough should now have even more strength and volume to it.

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.

Ultimate Man Bread, ready to be eaten

Ultimate Man Bread, ready to be eaten

* * *

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!

Tags: , , , , , ,

14 Responses to “Tilley’s Ultimate Man Bread”

  1. Tilley Says:

    This is the best bread on planet Earth! Thanks for being an awesome baker and having the openness to try a recipe from a crazy, old man. The reason 4lbs. of this bread was eaten in one evening is because it was exceedingly delicious. I want more!

  2. toxobread Says:

    Tilley: I’m glad you liked your birthday bread 🙂 Thank YOU for giving me the opportunity to bake, especially to bake something that I never would have otherwise!

  3. em Says:

    That looks and sounds absolutely amazing. And don’t forget that I’m one of those people who tries to healthify any recipe I come across!

  4. YeastSpotting 7.10.09 | Wild Yeast Says:

    […] Spicy Cheddar and Bacon Bread […]

  5. lisamichele Says:

    I’m absolutely in love with your bread. Cheddar, potatoes, scallions habanero, jalapeno ad yumfinitum. Bookmarked for immediate baking.

    • toxobread Says:

      Lisamichele: thank you! (Or rather, I thank you on behalf of Tilley, who came up with this bread in the first place.) Let me know how this bread turns out for you when you get a chance to make it. ^_^

  6. Mimi Says:

    I just ate breakfast but this bread is making me hungry again.

    Who needs to eat lunch, this bread has everything you need! 😆

  7. Mike Says:

    OMG, I’d love to try a baconless version of this.

    • toxobread Says:

      Mike: or perhaps, with facon? People have been telling me about this mysterious fake bacon – have you ever tried it?

  8. Corey Says:

    I saw that you reduced the salt, which is useful for controlling the leavening agent, to counteract for the bacon. One trick I might mention is gleaned from my love of quiche; blanche the bacon before adding it to savory recipes. It takes about 75% of the salt out (a guess) while leaving all of the lovely, porky flavor. After blanching the bacon, you don’t need to worry about an overly salty dish.

    Also, as a man and charcuterie enthusiast, I can tell you that this just made the “to make” list.

    • toxobread Says:

      Corey: thanks for the blanching tip. Yes, I was trying to account for the saltiness in the bacon by reducing the amount of salt in the recipe. If I were to blanch the bacon, would I do that before pan frying the strips or after? I’m asking because I had wanted to keep the bacon crispy and render all of the fat from it to add to the dough, and I would lose the crispiness if I were to blanch after pan frying.
      Anyway, let me know how it turns out if you get the chance to make it! Thanks for dropping by.

  9. a return to bread |  Raccoon and Lobster Says:

    […] Cheddar Potato Jalapeño Chive Bread adapted from the Ultimate Man Bread […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: