This bread dough recipe is inspired from the amazing book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I have been baking their regular bread recipe for what seems like forever. If you've tried it, you know it's about the easiest, no fail recipe out there. Their bread formula has been a life-changer for me. It allows me to bake bread several times a week that tastes delicious and looks like I've spent hours in the kitchen. No kneading or punching down is necessary. And the taste and texture are spot on.
I can highly recommend their books, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. These are some of the best recipes for those of you who are a little intimidated about making bread. You will be surprised how easy it is to achieve some gorgeous loaves.
Anyway, this Easy Artisan Bacon Cheese-Bread is a version of the original Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes recipe. I've changed it to account for all the cheese and bacon. Even with the changes, it turns out perfectly. Like I said, the original recipe is foolproof. I've made it over 100 times...never a problem. I use bread flour, which gives the finished bread a sturdier build, necessary to withhold all the extras of the cheese and bacon.
I use a container like this one to mix and rise my dough. This is an 8 quart size (too large), but a six quart container would be even better. It works well and you can see all the steamy goodness going on inside. But a large bowl will work too. What you see here is the rise after about 3 hours on the counter. Now it's ready to go in the fridge to cool down.
The artisan bread recipe makes a sticky dough. I have the best luck with shaping the dough after it has been refrigerated overnight. It's so much easier to work with when it's really cold. I use a lot of flour on my hands and on the dough to form it into balls, which do not have to be perfectly round. However, I've noticed that with the bacon and cheese addition, the dough is less sticky anyway, therefore easier to work with.
Here are the dough balls ready to be baked. I make two loaves with this recipe (you could make 3 smaller loaves as well) and bake them together. You could easily make one at a time too, leaving the other dough in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
Sprinkling lots of flour on top makes the bread look really artisan when it comes out of the oven.
I score the top with an "X" before baking. This does not change the baking process it just makes the finished product look pretty.
These golden, rustic loaves are gorgeous. They are truly showstoppers...you won't be disappointed.
- 10 slices thick cut bacon, diced
- 8 ounces shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (shred yourself, not packaged)
- 2 Tablespoons granulated yeast
- 3 cups lukewarm water (body temperature is perfect and will not damage yeast)
- 5-1/2 cups (29.30 ounces) bread flour *, more for dusting
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon yellow cornmeal
- Cook bacon over medium heat until brown and crunchy. Place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Set aside.
- Add yeast to your dough mixing/rising container. Pour in warm water and give the yeast a little stir with a wooden spoon. Add flour and salt. Start mixing with a wooden spoon, use your hands as necessary to fully wet the flour and salt. Add the cheese and bacon into the dough until fully combined. Cover dough with container top or plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for at least 3 hours. After 3 hours place dough in the refrigerator overnight. 9This helps make the dough less sticky and easier to work with.)
- When ready to bake, place a metal baking pan (not glass) on the bottom rack of the oven. Fill it with water. (This helps steam the bread, giving it the nice crust.) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, the water will heat up during the preheat. Meanwhile, butter the bottom of an 11 x 17 baking tray and sprinkle cornmeal over the butter to prevent the bread from sticking.
- Sprinkle the dough with flour and flour your hands as well. Divide the dough into two even loaves, shaping each into a ball. Place on the baking tray, several inches apart. Sprinkle generously with flour. (You can also bake one at a time, saving the dough in the refrigerator for another day.) Let rest on the baking tray for 30 minutes. Right before placing in the oven, score top of bread with an "x" or other decorative mark, cutting right through the dough.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes before slicing.
The final crumb.