ok! i made you a pot of bread and then i used the pot to make you some soup and i didn't even wash it in between. nose-to-tail pot. or something? i don't know.
a little while back, i had a layover in chicago like i so often do because the amount of places that i can fly directly to from fargo is approximately not that many at all, and mum showed up to keep me company on my layover with this gorgeous breathtaking rustic loaf of bread that was crusty and chewy and perfect with a slathering of egg salad. i couldn't stop eating it and inspecting its cute oblong shape. above all though, it was so shocking because if you know mum (and me) you know that our breads are usually very doughy and pillowy soft. always a challah, never a boule. hold the crust, add more sugar.
but as i sat outside of baggage claim and stuffed my face, mum went on about how she will not be making any other kind of bread ever again. this is her new favorite bread and every other bread can suck it. (she didn't really say that second part.) she went on to explain the process: there's no kneading necessary, no eggs or sugar or butter or oil, just a lot of patience, bread flour, and a dutch oven. it sounded a lot like how you prepare pizza dough. a big big cake of pizza dough.
(oh did somebody say cake?)
so i obviously rushed home to begin work on my version of mum's bread. it has bacon, chives, and a lot of black pepper. you can use any other kind of salty meat, like pancetta, prosciutto, salami... but if you're as big of a fan of alliteration as i am, you'll use bacon. and if you really want to up the decadence ante, you can reserve the bacon fat and use it in place of butter on a hot fresh bread slice. oooh yeah, baby.
it's true, this recipe does take time, but none of the steps require that much effort at all. a little mixing here, a heavy dusting of flour there. it's the perfect recipe if you're binge watching kimmy schmidt and you need an excuse to get up every few episodes and do one simple brainless activity at a time.
no-knead bacon bread
makes one loaf
approximately 4 1/2 c bread flour
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp kosher salt
1 c + 6 tb warm water
8 oz bacon
2 tb chopped fresh chives
in a large bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour, the yeast, and the salt. stir in the water until combined. it will be very very very sticky. cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise overnight, 12 hours or so. longer if you'd like.
crisp up your bacon, pat off excess fat, and then give it a rough chop. sprinkle it into the bread dough, along with the chives and a heavy dose of black pepper. mix it a few times so that everything is generally incorporated (it doesn't need to be perfect, we just don't want too many bacon bits poking their heads out). lay down a clean kitchen towel on our counter and place a piece of parchment paper or a silpat on top of it. brush the parchment or silpat with a very thin layer of the bacon fat (or oil) and lay down a thick layer of flour, about 1/2-3/4 cup. scrape the dough onto the floured surface and use heavily floured hands to shape it into a round-ish blob. (again, it doesn't need to be perfect.) sprinkle the top with another thick layer of flour. brush another piece of parchment with oil, place it over the dough blob, and cover it all with another towel. let it sit for 1 1/2 hours.
during the last 1/2 hour of sitting time, preheat your oven to 450ºf, with a lidded dutch oven in it. (make sure your dutch oven and its lid are heat safe at 450ºf! also, i use a 2.75 qt dutch oven. you can certainly use a larger one, the loaf just won't be as tall as the one in these pictures since the dough will spread more.)
carefully remove the dutch oven from your oven and take off the lid. uncover the bread dough, stick your hand underneath it and flop it over into the dutch oven. (mum calls this step "scary and messy.") cover the dutch oven, stick it into your oven and bake for 30 minutes. remove the lid and then bake for another 15-20 minutes, until it is nicely browned on top.
let it cool for about an hour, and then rip some off and dunk it into a bowl of soup.
a note on storing this: i get really paranoid about having meat things sitting out at room temperature for too long. so the way i've been storing this bread is that as soon as it cools, i slice it into single serving wedges, and put all of them in a ziplock bag in the freezer. i reheat it slice by slice briefly in the microwave, and then in the toaster or on the grill. it is *perfect* for avocado toast.
this bread is shown here with a great new thing: campbell's organic lentil soup! i really really like it for these reasons: it's very tasty, it doesn't require me to use my least favorite kitchen appliance (the can opener), and i know what all of the ingredients are without having to think hard or google anything. that is to say that there are no preservatives and it's made with organic ingredients. yes, this post is sponsored by campbell's, but truly, all of the soups in this new line that i've tried (there are six of them) have been wonderfully delicious and perfect with a slice of crusty bread. so go, put some bread dough in to rise and then run out to the store for some soup!