Recipe by Olha
These bread rings are simple to make and are loaded with flavor. Small pieces of bacon dot the moist, well structured crumb. Their salty richness is complemented by a healthy dose of black pepper in the dough. The crust is thin and softens as the bread cools. Serve it in slices, plain or with a smooth, fresh cream cheese or goat cheese.
- 1⁄4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 1⁄2-3 1⁄2 cups bread flour
- 1⁄2 lb bacon, chopped and cooked until slightly crisp about 1/2 cup (preferably not sweet-smoked)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons black pepper (fine or medium ground)
- cornmeal, for dusting
- 2 tablespoons melted lard or 2 tablespoons bacon drippings or 2 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing
Directions See How It's Made
- Make the biga 24 hours before you wish to bake; Stir the yeast into the lukewarm water until dissolved. Stir in 1 cup of the flour to make a smooth batter. Sprinkle on the remaining 1 cup flour, stir to incorporate, and then knead the dough in the bowl until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside in a clean bowl or on a floured counter, covered with plastic wrap, to ferment for 24 hours. (Or seal in a plastic bag, leaving room for expansion, and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature before using.).
- Cut the biga into 4 or 5 pieces. Place in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 1 cup lukewarm water and stir in 1 teaspoons yeast to dissolve it.
- BY HAND: Break up the biga with your fingers in the water. Add 1 cup of the flour and stir well to make a batter. Sprinkle on the bacon, salt, and pepper and stir. Add about 1 cup flour and stir to incorporate it. Flour your work surface generously and turn out the dough. Knead until satiny, about 8 minutes.
- USING A STAND MIXER: Fit the mixer with the dough hook. Add 1 cup of the flour to the bowl and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Sprinkle on the bacon, salt, pepper, and another 1 1/2 cups flour and mix on low speed for 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth.
- Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover well with plastic, and let rise for 3 hours.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut it in half. Gently roll each piece under your palms into a cylinder about 18 inches long. Shape each piece into a circle, with a good overlap of the ends, and pinch them to seal. Place the breads on a well floured surface and cover with plastic. Let rise for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, (or a baking sheet) on a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F Fill a sprayer with water.
- Dust a peel (or the back of a baking sheet) with cornmeal. Transfer one bread onto the peel or sheet, brush the top generously with half the fat or olive oil, and place on the hot baking stone or tiles (or baking sheet), leaving room for the other bread. Repeat with the second bread. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, spritzing several times during the first 5 minutes, until touched with gold and crisp on the bottom.
- Place on a rack to cool for 30 minutes or more before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 2 ring loaves about 1 1/4 pounds each.
- Home Baking.