Cheesy Bacon and Pepper Pull Aparts
First off, thanks a bunch for helping spread the word and for the fabulous response to the Bread Workshop. I am delighted to let you know that the super response and additional requests have lead me to open up one more day for the workshop – the 17th of February. Read more about the Workshop Announcement, here and do write in to me (email@example.com) to book your spot soon.
This bread is an ode to a new relationship. But to get to that I need to tell you a little story –
I used to be a wine sort of girl. Many a bottle of wine has rescued me on long trans atlantic flights, morose lonely evenings, boisterous mad evenings and even shy blushing ones. Come last November though, all that changed. I met age old friends at diwali, turned about 17 again and amidst the giggles, lost track of how cosy the wine and I got. But just as the Bible would have it, that and some of the BBQ pork .. ahem.. affected me for the next 2 days. I was diagnosed with food poisoning and …lets just say– the evening caused an undeniable dent in my relationship with wine and pork.
And since then, have not yet been able to make it up with wine. Pork and I became friends again..thanks to this (below) brilliant pork belly that I had at Kofuku, Bandra.
Only pork that good, kickass good, hair stand at end, can’t bother to shoot in case the other greedy pigs at my table gorge it all GOOD, could have made me get back into this relationship. As for wine, however… we arent back on speaking terms..yet.
The painful distance between wine and I led to something else though. You know how they say..when one door closes, another always opens? It did.. and I met – BEER. For the very first time I actually noticed beer. Beer has always lingered around the horizon, we met at parties, social events .. we had a lot of common friends but we never really hit it off. Secure in my relationship with wine, I confess I always treated beer with disdainful looks and gave it the wide birth. But once I actually gave beer a chance, I discovered so much! Its true what they say..everyone deserves a second chance.
And so I met a great mutual friend of beer. This beautiful soft pull apart bread. Composed of soft pull apart rolls that hide inside themselves chubby melty portions of mozzarella, fragrant with garlic, oregano and basil; generously surrounded with bacon, sundried tomatoes, peppers and olives.. this is just the kind of bread that goes well with cold beer and other friends. Try it and I bet you will be hoping you had only limited that to just you, beer and the bread.
And oh wait..the best part – this is a great bread for a bread baking novice. Rather easy to put together, needs minimal kneading and keeps rather well too.
Cheesy Bacon and Pepper pull aparts
(adapted this bread, from Choose Beggars, to suit myself and what’s available in Mumbai. Please do hop over to this blog – she has the great pictorial illustrations for the recipe)
Makes 1 large loaf
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast or even better, instant yeast
- 12 tbsp unsalted melted butter
- 4 tsp sugar
- 1.5 cups warm water
- 1 egg
- 3.75 – 4 cups flour
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp dried oregano, divided
- 2.5 tsp dried basil, divided
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 8-12 oil packed sundried tomatoes (1/2 cup chopped)
- 18-20 black olives (1/2 cup chopped)
- 1/3 cup diced jalapeños or mildly spiced green peppers (I used 5 of the pickling fat green peppers we have in Mumbai. Seeded and then diced)
- 5 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 250 grams bacon (you could always up this to about 300 grams)
- 1.5 cups dry finely grated cheese (you could use any dry aged cheese – parmesan, romano, asiago, grana padano or even gouda)
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika powder/chilli powder (you could skip this if desired)
- About 400 gms of the meltiest possible mozerella cheese or 30 -36 pieces (a little smaller than a lime or a table tennis ball)
** If you do not have oil packed sundried tomatoes, rehydrate them by putting the halves in a small bowl and adding just enough boiling water to cover them. Let the tomatoes sit for 15-20 minutes, or until they are tender.
** If using instant yeast, no need to activate it. Just add it to the flour in step 3 and follow the same procedure otherwise. Also, remember, the mixture in step 2 will not froth if you havent yet added the yeast.
1. If using active yeast, in a medium sized bowl spoon in the sugar and yeast.
2. Whisk the warm water and egg in a small bowl along with the activated yeast and whisk till slightly frothy. Now whisk in 5 tablespoons of the melted butter. Let the mixture stand for about 15 minutes till all bubbling and frothy. (If your yeast doesnt froth, it may mean that its no longer active and you need to get fresh yeast.
3. Put the flour and salt into a large bowl with one (1) tablespoon of oregano and one and a half (1.5) teaspoons of dried basil. Pour the butter and yeast mixtures over top.
4. Stir the mixture till it forms a sticky dough and knead for just about a minute. This dough needs to be sticky and not hold its shape too well .. much wetter than a regular chapati dough. It is however, not so wet that it will flow in your bowl like a batter. A djust by adding extra spoonfuls of flour/water to get the right consistency. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or cling film and put it in a warm spot to rise for about an hour and a half.
5. Dice the bacon into chunks, put into a skillet and fry till cooked through/well browned. You do not need to add oil here since the bacon will render plenty of fat. Strain the bacon fat into one shallow bowl and reserve the pieces in another shallow bowl.
6. Add the remaining melted butter to the bacon fat.
7. Add chopped olives, sundried tomatoes, parsley and peppers to the bacon pieces and toss to combine.
8. In a third bowl/half plate, combine cheese, chili powder/paprika, garlic, remaining one (1) tablespoon of oregano and one (1) teaspoon of basil. Stir together.
9. When the dough has doubled in size it is ready to use. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 30 to 36 pieces. Make sure that you match the number of pieces of dough to the number of pieces of cheese.
10. Pat each piece of dough into a flattish round shape the way you would in order to fill a parantha. Tuck one piece of cheese into the center of each one and pinch the dough around it to make a seal. Roll the ball between your palms a few times to make your stuffed dough into a round little ball. Shape all other pieces of dough and cheese similarly.
11. Sprinkle one quarter (1/4) of the bacon and olive mixture into the bottom of a large, ungreased bundt pan. Take a dough ball, roll it in the butter to get it well coated, next roll in the spiced cheese mixture. Put the coated ball over the olive mixture and repeat with other such balls (leaving a gap of about t 1/4″ between them) till teh bottom of the mould is just covered.
12. Sprinkle half of the remaining bacon and olive mixture over this layer. Make another layer of dough balls and repeat the process till the dough is used up. Your mould should be full at this point and you would have ended up with the following sequence
- bacon/tomato/olives/green onion
- first layer dough balls
- bacon/tomato/olives/green onion
- second layer dough balls
- bacon/tomato/olives/green onion
- third layer dough balls
13. Sprinkle remaining olive and cheese mixtures and drizzle any remaining butter mixture on top.
14. Cover loosely with a damp towel or cling film and let the bread sit till about doubled in size. (about 1 hour)
15. While the bread is rising, preheat your oven to 175 C.
16. Once doubled, bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until the top is browned and firm. If the bread is browning too quickly, loosely tent the pan with foil and allow it to continue cooking. Once done, remove from oven and serve immediately.
This bread is fabulous when warm but stays surprisingly soft till the next days. But you may never be able to test out that theory.