When confronting the task of baking the most elemental prepared foodstuff on the planet -- bread -- I must admit that a simple loaf of white or whole wheat held little appeal. I wanted to go after something more challenging. But what?
Memories of a European breakfast breads came to mind, and these memories quickly converged on the vaunted English bacon "bap," a crusty roll with rashers of bacon and HP Sauce. Hmmm...how about a loaf of bread that is a bacon bap, all in one? Finding nothing on splendidtable.org, I next turned to epicurious.com and found not bacon bread, but, alluringly, salami and rosemary bread.
After a quick trip to Salumi for the meat and my garden for the rosemary, I prepared the bread by closely following the recipe, however, I reduced the amount of flour by one cup as it seemed to be a dry enough dough after 5 cups. How could I, a virgin breadbaker, tell what made a good dough? I have no idea -- I'm just arrogant, I guess!
After two risings, the dough appeared as in the photo above. The loaf had spread out more than I thought it would, so I reduced the cooking time from 15 minutes at 450 and then 30 minutes at 350 down to 10 minutes at 450 and 20 minutes at 350. That turned out to be perfect.
The loaf emerged from the oven brown and beautiful. The density was perfect -- proving bread flour really is worth using over all-purpose flour in baking bread.
My satisfaction of having made this fundamental baked good was palpable as I smelled the wheat, spiced meat and rosemary, felt the warmth in my hand and, after cutting off a still warm slice and watching the butter melt into the pitted texture, tasted delicious. Success!
The bread's world premiere was aside a smoked salmon salad made of mixed greens and friseé, pumpkin seeds, roasted red pepper, roasted red pepper aioli and a dressing of lime juice, cherry juice, walnut oil, and a drop of white truffle oil.
I'm ready to try new breads now -- what do you think would be a fun challenge for me to tackle next? Let me know in the comments!