Pikantes Bauernbrot (Savoury Farmer’s Loaf)
For me this is the ultimate accompaniment to a bowl of leek and potato soup. The savoury hit of bacon and cheese marry beautifully with the creaminess of the soup. The addition of herbs and pepper add an extra flavour dimension alongside the crunchy texture of the chopped almonds. For added flavour you could toast the almonds and even use smoked back bacon instead of pancetta. To make this loaf vegetarian friendly, simply double the amount of cheese and perhaps consider using one with a stronger flavour.
A few notes about making this loaf:
Instead of shaping it into a round you could put it into a 2lb loaf tin instead and continue with the recipe as normal.
When proving the loaf for 35 minutes prior to baking, don’t expect it to increase much in volume during this time. The loaf will rise and expand into the cuts during baking instead.
It's worth reading the introduction to the bread series which explains the dual use of fresh yeast and sourdough starters in some German bread recipes.
Ingredients for one 950g loaf:
500g rye flour (dark, medium or light work fine)
50g sourdough starter
10g fresh yeast
100g streaky bacon or pancetta, diced
1 tsp salt
A pinch or two of ground pepper
100g cheese (Emmental or mild cheddar), grated
50g blanched almonds, chopped
1 Tbs fresh parsley, finely chopped (or dried herbs)
Dissolve the yeast in the water and stir in the sourdough starter. Combine this with 250g of the rye flour. Cover and leave in a warm place overnight (at least 12 hours). This is your preferment which will be used to leaven your rolls.
After the allotted time has passed, your preferment should be spongy and have a sweet-sour smell. Preheat the oven to 200 °C (fan). Place a baking tin or heatproof bowl in the base of the oven. Add to the preferment the remaining 250g of flour, the bacon, salt, pepper, cheese, almonds and parsley. Stir to combine and knead for 5-10 minutes.
Shape into a round loaf and place it onto a baking sheet dusted with flour. Cover and leave to prove for 35 minutes.After this time the loaf may not look like it has risen much but it will be ready. Brush the top with water and dust with more rye flour. Slash the top with a sharp knife or grignette into a diamond pattern.
Pour hot water into the baking tin to create steam and bake the loaf in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.