Bacon + Bread

Fougasse aux Grattons—That’s French for Yum!

What a week! I started out at Lake Austin Spa just outside of Austin, Texas, where I taught culinary classes with Karen Adler.  Just looking at the photos of the spa makes you relax.

Ahhhhhh…  Or is that Ommmmmm?

Secondly, Jon Brick of OutsideLines Travel sent me their cool video of Tory Miller, the talented chef at L’Etoile and Graze in Madison, Wisconsin. Miller pulls his iconic red wagon from stall to stall at the Madison Farmer’s Market, then chooses the best of what’s in season for his menus. What an inspired idea to do a smushed (that’s a culinary term) round of goat cheese warmed in the oven, then a salad on top! You can read more about him and the Madison Farmer's Market--the largest in the United States-- in Heartland.

Thirdly, I had a meeting in Kansas City to talk about photos for my upcoming book I Love Cinnamon Rolls! with Andrews McMeel (fall 2012) and a sampling of cinnamon rolls. That's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

The fabulous Ben Pieper is doing the cinnamon roll photos. He also did the lick-the-page  food photos for Heartland.

Number Four Event of the Week. My son is having a big birthday, which means I’m starting to tell people I got married in my Girl Scout uniform. . . .

We’ve also had our first frost.  And that heralds Bread Baking Season, if you haven’t been baking before now.

I was just at Costco and saw all the bread machines for sale.  That’s right in line with bread books like The Artisan Bread Machine flying out the door.

If you don’t have that electric baking assistant, the automatic bread machine, you can still get a little help.  No-knead dough just stirs together in a bowl, then sits on your kitchen counter to rise all by itself. It does just what you told it to do.  Rise!

When you marry this easy-to-get-along-with dough with great bacon, well, what’s not to love?

In Fougasse aux Grattons, or French Flatbread with Bacon Bits, you can have a wonderful flatbread to go with soups and stews or an appetizer bread that’s just as delicious with beer and wine.

Fougasse is a dough you roll out like long pizza, then cut slits through it with a pizza wheel or knife. The slits make a decorative pattern as the flatbread bakes. Then, you brush it with bacon fat for even more flavor. 

The grattons are little pieces of bacon cooked crisp with dry white wine. You scatter them over the dough, then roll them into it before you cut the slits in the dough. Easy. Use an artisan Midwestern bacon, of course.

Although you don’t have to use a baking stone to make this recipe, it does make your oven function better. A baking stone's surface gets hot all over to the correct temperature, so anything you place on it bakes evenly.  Even though your oven might say 400°F, there are still hotter and cooler spots. The baking stone evens the baking field, so to speak.

The finished flatbread is crisp on the outside, bacon-y on the inside, and 100% delicious.

So, here it is (and in 200 Fast & Easy Artisan Breads).

Fougasse aux Grattons
Makes flatbread to serve 24

1 tbsp  instant or bread machine yeast         
3/4 tbsp           fine kosher salt          
3 1/4 cups       all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting       
1 1/2 cups       lukewarm water, about 100°F

1 cup dry white wine             
16 slices smoked bacon or 16 oz pancetta, finely diced       
2 cups  hot water for broiler pan       
1. Measure. Spoon the flours into a measuring cup, level with a knife or your finger, then dump the flour into a large mixing bowl.

2. Mix. Add the yeast and salt to the flours. Stir together with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk. Pour in the water and stir together until just moistened. Beat 40 strokes, scraping the bottom and the sides of the bowl, until the dough forms a lumpy, sticky mass.

3. Rise. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 72°F for 2 hours or until the dough has risen near the top of the bowl and has a sponge-like appearance.

4. Use Right Away or Refrigerate. Use that day or place the dough, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 9 days before baking.

5.  Make Filling. Combine the wine and bacon in a skillet over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the fat has rendered and the bacon has browned, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Reserve the melted fat in the skillet. Divide the bacon into two portions.

6. Form. To form the flatbread, remove the dough and cut in half. Transfer one dough portion to a floured surface and dust very lightly with flour. Flour the rolling pin. Working the dough as little as possible and adding flour as necessary, roll the dough into a 12-inch/3 cm by 6-inch (15 cm) oval. Lightly flour any sticky places on the dough. The dough should feel soft and smooth all over, like a baby’s skin, but not at all sticky.

7. Fill. Arrange ¼ of on portion of the grattons on the upper half of the dough. Fold the other half over the filling. Turn the dough a quarter turn. Working the dough as little as possible and adding flour as necessary, roll the dough again into a 12-inch/30 cm by 6-inch (15 cm) oval. Again, arrange ¼ of the grattons on the upper half of the dough. Fold the other half over the filling. Turn the dough a quarter turn and roll into an oval. Repeat the process until all of the grattons have been incorporated into the dough. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and filling.

8. Cut. With the dough in a 12-inch/3 cm by 6-inch (15 cm) oval, use a pizza wheel or a sharp knife to cut two rows of 4 diagonal slashes, about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm), that almost meet in the middle of the dough like this: /  \.  Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and pull the top and sides of the dough to stretch it to a larger oval with opened slits . Brush the surface of the dough with the melted bacon fat.

9. Rest. Cover with a tea towel and let rest at room temperature for 40 minutes.

10. Prepare Oven for Artisan Baking. About 30 minutes before baking, place a broiler pan on the lower shelf and a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven. Preheat to 450°F (230 °C).

11. Slide Baking Pan onto Baking Stone and Add Water to Broiler Pan. Using an oven mitt, carefully pull the middle rack of the oven out several inches. Place the pan of fougasse on the hot stone. Pull the lower rack out, pour the hot water into the broiler pan, and push the lower rack back in place. Close the oven door immediately so the steam will envelop the oven.

12. Bake. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until the crust is medium-brown. Transfer to a rack to cool.

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