Maple Bacon Cheddar & Pickle Pull-Apart Bread #BreadBakers

You read that right. Maple Bacon Cheddar & PICKLE Pull-Apart Bread.  I know it sounds like the weird craving of someone in her tenth month of pregnancy but trust me, it's good! Really! Now, when it comes to bread, my faves are still the basics—flour, water, salt and yeast (which is an excellent book, by the way.) There's nothing like a good artisanal loaf, all thin, crackly crust and creamy crumb and whatnot. But there's a lot to be said for the stepping outside the (bread)box. I came upon this recipe in the latest issue of Bake From Scratch, which is an awesome magazine, by the way. (It, along with King Arthur Flour's Sift, are two must-haves for any baker. I've pretty much stopped all print mags in favor of digital issues that reside on my iPad, but I couldn't resist these—definite keepers.) My first reaction to this recipe was the epitome of maturity. Eeeewwwwww! But then I thought about it a bit. Okay, maple, good. Bacon, good. Cheddar, good. Pickle, good. I mean, what's not to like?I was intrigued but still wary so I double-dog-dared myself to try it. Triple-dog-dared, even. And I wasn't disappointed.

Pillowy leaves of soft bread, savory cheese (CHEESE!), crunchy bits of salty-sweet bacon (BACON!), tangy-sweet pickle…somehow it all comes together. Add in the fact that A. it's a really easy—and relatively fast bread (for a yeast bread anyway) and 2. you get to play with your food, and it's a win all around. The basic dough is very versatile, definitely one to use again and again, so there are endless ways to be inventive with it if pickles aren't your thing. But give it this one a try first and you might be won over. too. I triple-dog dare you.

This bread is my entry for this month's #BreadBakers theme: breads made with natural sugars, hosted by Mayuri of Mayuri's Jakoni. Don't forget to check out the links below to see what the other talented #BreadBakers came up with—they're a very creative bunch!

Maple Bacon Cheddar & Pickle Pull-Apart Bread

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2/3 cup warm whole milk (105°–110°)
  • 12g/1 tbsp sugar**
  • 8g/1 packet active dry yeast
  • 420g/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 58g 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6g/1 tsp. kosher salt

Filling

  • 8 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 60g/4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and divided
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup bread-and-butter pickles, chopped

Directions

  1. To make the bacon, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with foil and parchment. Place the bacon on the baking sheet and pour the maple syrup over the slices. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the bacon is somewhat crispy (see Notes). Let cool, then cut into 1/2" dice.
  2. To make the dough, combine the warm milk, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and let stand until foamy.
  3. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. On low speed, add 140g/1 cup of flour and mix until just combined. Add the melted butter and another 70g/1/2 cup flour and again, beat until just combined. Beat in eggs, then gradually add the salt and remaining flour and mix until combined. Switch to the dough hook and mix until you have a soft, smooth, somewhat sticky dough.
  4. Transfer to lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size.
  5. Lightly spray a loaf pan with oil spray and line with parchment paper.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface that's lightly floured. Gently deflate the dough and form into a ball. Cover and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.
  7. Roll the dough out into a 16" x 18" rectangle. Brush the dough with 2 tbsp. of the melted butter, then evenly cover with the bacon, cheddar and pickle bits. 
  8. Cut the dough lengthwise into 4 strips, each 4" x 18". Stack the strips on top of one another then cut into 4" x 3" rectangles. (See notes for my alternate method.)
  9. Tip the loaf pan on its end and stack the rectangles in the pan. Turn it right side up and gently rearrange the rectangles to fill the pan, teasing the leaves apart if needed. If any filling comes loose (and it will), sprinkle it over the top of the loaf.
  10. Cover the pan and let rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size.
  11. Brush the loaf with the remaining butter, then bake for 40–45 minutes, covering with foil after about 30 minutes if needed to prevent excess browning.
  12. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Bake From Scratch Summer 2016

Notes

*Yes, I was channeling the Friends episode where Rachel mistakenly combines two recipes and makes a trifle with beef. Joey: "I mean, what's not to like? Custard, good. Jam, good. Meat, good!"

**The original recipe calls for sugar but since this month's theme is all about natural sweeteners, I substituted an equal amount of maple syrup for the sugar.

The recipe calls for you to sprinkle the bacon, cheddar and pickle bits over the entire rectangle of dough, then cut and stack. I made a complete mess of things this way (the bits-laden dough strips stretched like crazy and bits went everywhere) so the second time, I cut the four strips, sprinkled the bits over one strip, stacked the next strip, sprinkled bits, lather rinse repeat. Much less messy for me and I had almost no problem with stretching.

About that crispy bacon, good luck with that. Baking thick cut bacon, especially bacon that's coated in maple syrup, does NOT, in my experience, result in anything approaching crisp. Not unless you want to burn it, that is. Which I did. Twice. So you don't have to. On my third attempt, I stopped short of burning it but it was still a bit too done for my taste, considering it cooks a bit more during the bake. Finally, I just baked it until it was the way I like it—which is not crisp at all (both Mr. Dough and I really don't like well-done bacon). It still cooked up more during the bake but I was fine with it. TL;DR—keep an eye on the bacon and stop when you think it's right. It's bacon. How could it be bad? Unless you burn it. Twice.

I forgot about covering the pan after baking for 30 minutes, which is why my bacon looks extra browned. Doesn't affect the taste any but aesthetically, covering the baking loaf helps a bit.

#BreadBakers for July: Breads with Natural Sweeteners

We're all about baking with natural sweeteners this month—no refined sugar. Some of the natural sweeteners are maple syrup, honey, blackstrap molasses, dates, banana puree, coconut sugar, balsamic glaze, brown sugar syrup, real fruit jam made without any sugar, stevia, palm jaggery. NO SUGAR, white, brown, demerara, turbinado, muscovado, etc, were to be used in the bake. Thanks to Mayuri at Mayuri's Jikoni for hosting and for an interesting theme!

BreadBakers

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.