Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Homemade Cheese Bread with Bacon and Caramelized Onions

This recipe LOOKS complicated, but it is not. The little effort of frying the bacon and onions is OH, so worth it!
Homemade cheese bread with bacon and caramelized onions

3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour  (always unbleached)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 Tablespoons instant yeast
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups shredded cheese Gruyère or cheddar and parmesan, (if using the cheddar and parmesan I would recommend 1 1/2 cups of cheddar and 1/2 cup parmesan because of the salt in the parmesan).
4-5 slices thick cut good quality bacon cut into 1 inch
1 medium-sized onion chopped
Fresh ground black pepper

Add the dry ingredients to the work bowl of your mixer (flour and salt).
In a sauté pan brown the bacon making sure not to over brown.  We are looking for a golden brown not overly crispy.  If the bacon a very crisp it will be over cooked and dry by the time the bread is baked.  Drain the bacon on paper towels.
In the same sauté pan using the bacon fat (if not using bacon just sauté the bacon in olive oil) sauté the onions until lightly caramelized. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and a good healthy grind of fresh black pepper on the onions while they are cooking.   Drain the onions as well.

Drain them well, we don't want the fat in the bread. They also need to be cool.
Now, get your warm water measured.  To that warm (not hot or it will kill the yeast) add the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and give that a good mix to dissolve.  Next add the yeast to the water sugar mixture.  Proof your yeast.

Add your olive oil to the flour and salt in the work bowl.  Turn the mixer on and add the water/yeast mixture.  Knead until a nice dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Add half of the shredded cheese to the mixer.  Knead until the cheese has fully incorporated into the dough.

Once the dough is done lightly flour your work surface.  Lay your ball of dough out and press it flat with your hands.  Now layer on the remaining cheese, bacon and onions.  Fold the top of the dough down over the cheese/bacon/onion mixture.  Fold the bottom up (like folding a letter).  Next, turn the letter shaped rectangle short side toward your tummy.  Then roll the dough up from one end to the other.  Now knead the dough with your hands to form a nice ball of dough that has the filling completely incorporated.

This kneading is simply to work in the goodies and form a nice ball of dough
Spray your rising bowl or container with non-stick spray and set your dough in there to rise.  This took 90 minutes today. You want the dough to double in size.  Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees

Shape your dough.  If you are making baguettes cut the dough in half and form your baguettes.  If making a boule you can split the dough in half and make two small boules You could egg wash the dough instead but you will get a softer crust.Beth made two regular loaves
Cover and let rise for 30-45 minutes (until nicely puffed).

Bake the dough at 400 degrees for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature to 375 for an additional 25 minutes (These time estimates are for convection ovens, if your oven is not convection you may need to add a few additional minutes).  **Check to make sure the bread is baked through, you may need an extra 5 minutes (both convection and non-convection ovens).

Remove your bread to a rack and allow it to cool for at least half and hour, 45 minutes would be even better.

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