Cheddar Bacon Sourdough Bread Recipe

A crusty slice of this cheddar bacon sourdough bread is like feasting on a gourmet sandwich. It's ideal for packing on a road trip or a picnic. It even makes a great lunch at your desk. Just tear off a hunk and enjoy! You'll need some fresh sourdough starter to make this fabulous recipe. Make the starter a week before you plan to bake. We guide you through the process of making your own sourdough starter.

Ingredients

Rice Flour for Dusting

3 1/2 Cups Spelt Flour. We use spelt flour because it's lower in gluten than modern wheat flour. Studies show that spelt flour is tolerated by many gluten-sensitives and IBS sufferers. You can substitute all-purpose flour or bread flour and you'll have equally fabulous results.

2 1/2 Tsp. Salt

1 1/4 Cups Warm Water

1 Cup Homemade Sourdough Starter

6 Slices Regular Thin Sliced Bacon

3/4 Cup Good Quality Sharp Cheddar Cheese

PREP THE BACON AND THE CHEESE

Crisp the Bacon

Save the thick-sliced bacon for Sunday Brunch. Regular thin-sliced bacon works best in this tasty recipe. Cook the bacon until it's crispy and easy to crumble. See our Easy Oven-Fried Bacon Recipe for a quick way to cook up a whole package of bacon with very little clean-up. After it's crispy, crumble the bacon and set it aside to add to the dough later.

Shred the Cheese

Look for a good-quality sharp cheddar cheese that's a bit dry and crumbly. It's best to use the hardest and dryest cheeses you can find. Softer cheeses like American or Mozzarella often separate at high temperatures. Take it easy on the amount of cheese you're using. It may seem like adding more of a good thing makes it great, but in this case, less is best. Coarsely shred the cheese and set it aside for use later.

COMBINE THE INGREDIENTS FOR THE SOURDOUGH

Combine the flour and the salt in a medium mixing bowl. Make a well in the flour and add the sourdough starter. Add 1 cup warm water and mix with your hands for a few minutes until a rough dough starts to form. The dough will be stringy looking and some parts will be drier than others. That's perfect! Don't overmix it. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes to autolyze. Autolyzing allows the flour some time to absorb the water. Set the bacon and sharp cheddar cheese aside for now. You'll add them later.

STRETCH AND FOLD THE DOUGH

After it has rested for 10 minutes, stretch and fold the dough.

Gently pull one side of the dough up out of the bowl and stretch it upward. Fold it over onto itself and turn the bowl a quarter turn. Gently pull the next side of the dough up and over itself toward the middle. Continue this process for a total of ten stretches and folds. Once you've completed ten stretches and folds, cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for ten minutes. Repeat the stretch and fold process a total of three times ten minutes apart. The dough will begin to come together and be easier to handle with each stretch and fold process.

ADD THE CRISPY BACON AND THE SHREDDED CHEESE

After the dough has rested following the third stretch and fold, sprinkle the bacon and cheese over the middle of the dough. Gently stretch and fold the dough over the bacon and the cheese for a total of ten stretches and folds to evenly distribute the bacon and cheese throughout the loaf.

LET THE DOUGH REST OVERNIGHT

Once you've completed four stretch and fold sessions, it's time to let the dough rest overnight for a bulk ferment. This allows the beneficial yeast and bacteria in the sourdough starter to break down the FODMAPS in the dough. This long fermentation process is key to baking a great loaf of bread that may also be easier for sensitive stomachs to digest. Research shows that some people with gluten sensitivity and /or IBS can digest sourdough that has been allowed to bulk ferment for at least 12 hours followed by a refrigerated fermentation lasting up to three days. Read more in our post: Sourdough Bread on a Gluten-Sensitive Diet? It Depends.

SHAPE THE DOUGH

The dough should have risen to at least double in size overnight. Gently stretch and fold the dough a final time for only four stretches and folds. On the final fold, pull the dough all the way over itself to create a ball. Traditionally, the dough is turned out on the counter for final shaping. A dough scraper is used to gently tuck the edges of the dough underneath itself to create the desired shape. I like to allow gravity to work in my favor. Instead of turning the dough out onto the counter, leave it in the bowl. Gently pick the entire dough ball up by the sides and allow gravity to pull the dough downward. Shape the dough as tension is being created. Either method works great.

Once you've shaped the dough, place it in a banneton or glass bowl generously dusted with rice flour.  Loosley cover with a cloth banneton liner or plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to continue fermenting for up to three days.

SCORE AND BAKE

Technically, the dough is ready to bake about an hour after the final shaping. However, as noted in our recent post, research studies show that a longer fermentation time (3-4 days) creates a more easily digestible bread that even some gluten-sensitives and IBS sufferers can enjoy without repercussion. Our in-house research shows that fermenting longer than 4 days results in significantly less oven spring. For the fluffiest loaf possible, bake between 2-3 days after fermenting.

PREHEAT THE OVEN

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to at least 495 Degrees. This high temperature is important as it promotes the best initial rise.

Line a bread cloche or a cast iron dutch oven with parchment paper.

SCORE THE DOUGH

Scoring the dough is an important step in sourdough success. Steam escapes from the loaf as it bakes into fluffy goodness. Scoring gently encourages the steam to escape in a controlled and artful manner. Skip scoring and your loaf will burst wherever the steam finds a way through the dough. That could end up being on the side or bottom of the loaf. It's still wonderfully good tasting but might be a bit misshapen. You can score using a very sharp knife or a bread lave.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and place it on the parchment-lined cookware surface. Slowly score the dough. You can create an artful pattern or simply score a straight line down the center of the dough.

CAST IRON TIP:

I use a cast iron dutch oven with a flat lid for bread baking and it works great. It's easier to place the dough on the lid, which is shallower, and use the pot as a dome cover. It works like a bread cloche. I also take this opportunity to season my dutch oven! Give your cast iron a swipe with some avocado oil before baking and the high oven temperature will season it beautifully.

BAKE THE BREAD

When the oven has preheated to at least 495 degrees, cover the scored dough with the cast iron pot or cloche dome and place it in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 475 degrees for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the cover and allow the steam to escape. Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature before slicing. Be patient! Cutting before cooling results in a gummy mess. Let the steaming process continue until the bread is fully cooled.

STORE THE BREAD

Sourdough is a fermented bite of healthy goodness. It's best to store it in a bread box made specifically for storing bread so it can breathe. Avoid storing it in plastic and above all else, leave it on the counter at room temperature and never in the refrigerator.

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