Bacon and Cheddar Loaves

Bacon and Cheddar Loaves

 

I’m indebted to Paul Hollywood, the English baker and celebrity chef, for this recipe. These bacon and cheddar loaves make a great lunch or snack and are enjoyed by all the family.

I have played about with his quantities of ingredients, though. The recipe in his book “How to Bake” recommends that 500g, or just over a pound, of flour will provide 4 servings. Perhaps he has a bigger appetite than I do, but that’s equivalent to a quarter of a large loaf in each serving. And I feel that the bacon and cheddar gets a bit lost in all the bread.

My adapted recipe below halves the quantity of bread and increases the proportion of bacon and cheese. Perhaps you’d like to try different amounts and let me know how you get on?

Baking bread is not difficult if you follow this 3-step process. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.

 

Bacon and Cheddar Loaves
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 200g (7 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (1½ cups)
  • 50g (1¾ oz) wholemeal/whole wheat flour (⅓ cups)
  • 5g (1½ tsp) instant yeast
  • 5g (1 tsp) salt
  • 15g (½ oz) unsalted butter, softened (1 tbsp)
  • 165ml (6 fl oz) water (1¾ cups less 1 tbsp)

  • For the filling
  • 6 rashers of smoked back bacon, rind removed
  • 100g (3½ oz) grated Cheddar cheese (1 cup)


  1. Method

  2. Step 1
  3. Pour the flours into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the water. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  4. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.

  5. In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, yeast, and butter.

  6. Step 2
  7. At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt and yeast to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.

  8. Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  9. Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  10. Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  11. Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  12. The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  13. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  14. While waiting, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and add the bacon, cooking gently on both sides until just cooked. Set aside to cool and then chop into small squares.

  15. Then prepare a couple of baking trays. Line them with baking parchment.

  16. Step 3
  17. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Add the bacon pieces and grated cheese to it, and knead until well mixed. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and roll each portion into a smooth oval, tapering the ends into points. Place 2 loaves on each tray, dust with flour and slash the tops along their lengths.

  18. Cover with tea towels, or place each tray inside a clean plastic bag, and leave to prove for about an hour. You can tell when they're ready when they've doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  19. Before the end of the hour, heat your oven to 220°C/425°F (gas mark 7).

  20. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Eat warm.



  21. Tip
  22. Many recipes recommend using warm water to make the yeast work more quickly. However, the flavour is improved if the process takes place more slowly. I use water at room temperature or even a little cooler.

  23. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated: March 10, 2017

Toasted Ham Cheesies

Toasted Ham Cheesies

 

A really quick tasty snack. Toast is topped with ham and a mixture of grated Cheddar flavoured with mustard and Worcestershire sauce then grilled/broiled until the cheese is golden.

 

Toasted Ham Cheesies
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 3 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 40g/1½ oz butter
  • 170g/6 oz Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp English mustard or Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 slices ham
  • 4 slices toast
  • 2 tomatoes, halved


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the grill/broiler to hot.

  3. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, cheese, milk, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, egg, salt and pepper.

  4. Lay a piece of ham on each slice of toast, then divide the cheesy mixture between the four slices.

  5. Put under the grill/broiler until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

  6. Serve garnished with tomato halves.

 

Macaroni Cheese with Bacon

Macaroni Cheese with Bacon

 

This macaroni cheese is ideal for a filling snack or for a supper served with a salad. The bacon really adds some additional flavour to the sauce and it has a crunchy, cheesy breadcrumb topping.

 

Macaroni Cheese with Bacon
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 225g/8 oz macaroni
  • 110g/4 oz cheddar cheese, grated
  • 850ml/1½ pints milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 70g/2½ oz butter
  • 70g/2½ oz flour
  • 6 slices smoked streaky bacon/side bacon
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 handfuls fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
  • pepper

  • Equipment
  • A 2 litre/3½ pint ovenproof dish


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

  3. Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water for 1 minute less than recommended on the packet of the brand you are using. Drain and set aside.

  4. Meanwhile, pour the milk into a pan and add the bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then immediately remove from the heat.

  5. In a separate pan, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until there is a smooth paste (a roux).

  6. Remove the bay leaves from the milk, then gradually add the milk to the roux, stirring constantly, until blended and smooth. Simmer to thicken to a double/whipping cream consistency. Remove from the heat.

  7. Grill the bacon until just crispy. Let it cool a little then cut into small pieces.

  8. Stir the pasta, bacon, cheddar and mustard into the sauce and add the pepper.

  9. Spoon into the ovenproof dish. No need to smooth the top.

  10. Toss the breadcrumbs and Parmesan together. Scatter over the top, completely covering the macaroni cheese mixture. Bake for 40 minutes until the top starts to brown.

 

Shepherd’s Pie Napoletana

Shepherd's Pie Napoletana

 

The traditional shepherd’s pie can be quite bland and my basic Shepherd’s Pie recipe has extra seasonings to liven it up. This one brings a touch of Italian using a Napoletana sauce and with grated Parmesan on the top.

 

Shepherd's Pie Napoletana
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 450g/1 lb minced lamb/ground lamb
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig (or a large pinch of dried)
  • 225ml/8 fl oz red wine
  • 500g/17 fl oz Napoletana pasta sauce (or similar)
  • 900g/2 lb potatoes (floury)
  • 50g/2 oz butter
  • 50g/2 oz Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated


  1. Method
  2. Brown the lamb in a large pan over a medium heat, stirring frequently to break up any lumps, about 7 minutes. It should be really well browned. Then remove from the pan and set aside.

  3. Add the onion to the pan with the rosemary and cook until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. There should be enough fat left from browning the meat not to require adding any oil.

  4. Return the lamb to the pan and stir in the wine. Loosen any crusty bits from the bottom of the pan, then leave the wine to bubble gently until roughly half of it has evaporated. Stir in the pasta sauce, then simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into large chunks. Put in a pan of water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20–25 minutes until tender. Drain and return to the hot pan to dry off any excess moisture. Mash with the butter and half the Parmesan.

  6. Preheat the grill to high.

  7. Spoon the meat sauce into a medium-sized ovenproof dish. Top with the potatoes, no need to smooth the surface, then sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

  8. Brown under the grill for about 3 minutes.

  9. Serve with seasonal vegetables.

  10. Tip
  11. The dish can be prepared ahead of time up to the grill stage. Cover the dish then refrigerate for up to two days. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and cook the pie for 25–30 minutes until heated through and golden on top.

 

Mini Ciabatta Pizzas

Mini Ciabatta Pizzas

 

These mini ciabatta pizzas are made with ciabatta halves topped with tomatoes, cheese, bacon and onion, cooked in olive oil and garlic. Perfect for a light snack.

 

Mini Ciabatta Pizzas
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 4 bacon rashers, cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 ciabattas, halved horizontally
  • 1 × 400g/½ × 28 fl oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 110g/4 oz cheese, grated


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

  3. Fry the bacon in 1 tablespoon olive oil over a medium heat for 5 minutes until crispy. Set aside.

  4. Lower the heat and fry the onion in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Set aside.

  5. Meanwhile, put the four ciabatta halves in the oven, cut-side down, for 5 minutes to crisp the outer sides.

  6. Top the cut side of the ciabatta halves equally with the tomatoes. Sprinkle over the cheese then top with the bacon and onion mixture.

  7. Cook the ciabatta pizza in the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted, or cook under a medium-heat grill for 2–3 minutes, taking care not to burn the onions.

 

Sardine Pizza Toasties

Sardine Pizza Toasties

 

Slices of wholemeal toast, topped with sardines, tomatoes and grated cheese, then grilled, for a healthy pizza toastie.

 

Sardine Pizza Toasties
Prepares: 2 servings
 
  • Ingredients
  • 2 slices wholemeal bread, toasted
  • 1 can sardines in tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 50g/2 oz mozzarella or Cheddar cheese, grated


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the grill to medium.

  3. Drain the sardines and mix the sauce with the tomato paste. Spread the mixture over one side of the toast and top with the tomato slices. Place the sardines on top. Sprinkle with the cheese.

  4. Grill for 6–8 minutes until the cheese melts and is beginning to turn golden.