I love brunch. It's not so much that I enjoy the later time frame; it's the combination of sweet and savory foods. My main breakfast dilemma is sweet vs savory, and it's always difficult. If we go out for breakfast, I won't know what I'm ordering until the last second, when the server comes over, everyone else has ordered, and I've narrowed it to two selections, one sweet, one savory. Whichever I blurt out under pressure becomes my breakfast. At brunch, though, everyone expects a bit of both, and my indecision becomes a non-issue (for the moment).
Recently browsing Dorie Greenspan's blog, I came across a post about an article she had written for Bon Appetit Magazine involving a Bacon-Cheddar quick bread. "Mmm", I thought. "Cheesy porky bread." Then I noted that the recipe also included dried pears. "Wait... cheesy, porky bread... with sweet bits?! An integrated sweet/savory breakfast option!"
I normally wouldn't just have something like that around the house, but we had a guest coming to stay, and I decided he would be an excellent excuse. I mean guinea pig. Oh wait, I mean test subject. CRAP! I mean, uh... I thought he might enjoy some freshly baked breakfast bread. Yeah, that sounds better.
I of course decided to play with the recipe a little bit, and used my homemade bacon, some Comte cheese, thyme, and dried unsulphured Turkish apricots.
The bread was lovely. Dense, very flavorful, decidedly savory but studded with sweet, soft chunks of apricot, it was a wonderful departure from run-of-the-mill breakfast. It was especially delicious when topped with poached or over-easy eggs.
Thank you Dorie!
Bacon-Comte Quick Bread
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan and Bon Appetit Magazine
The original recipe calls for cheddar cheese, walnuts, minced sage, and dried pears. I changed them to Comte, thyme, and apricots just for my own preferences, leaving out the nuts. If you want to add nuts, she recommended 1/3 C of walnuts, toasted and chopped. I made a second loaf with bacon, Keen's Cheddar, sage, and dried apples, and it just wasn't as tasty. Keen's cheddar is a very strong, tangy cheese, almost with a hint of 'Blue' flavor which overpowered the other ingredients, and the apples soaked up too much liquid from the batter, making the finished bread dry. Stick with a moist dried fruit like apricots or pears.
5 slices bacon, chopped
1 C coarsely grated Comte cheese
1/2 C Comte cheese, cut into 1/4" cubes (Between shredded & cubed, about 6 oz total cheese)
1 C diced moist dried apricots, preferably unsulphured
1 Tb fresh thyme leaves
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 Tb baking powder
1/2 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs
1/3 C whole milk
1/3 C extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" metal loaf pan and set aside. Cook sliced bacon in a large skillet until lightly browned and crisp, then transfer to paper towels to drain. In a medium bowl or on your cutting board, combine bacon, all of the cheese, the apricots, and the thyme. In another, larger bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Whisk together eggs, milk and olive oil, then pour over the flour mix and stir until just moistened. Batter will still be lumpy. Add bacon-cheese mix and stir until incorporated. The batter will be sticky and ugly and lumpy, but ignore that. Pour into the prepared loaf pan, smooth evenly, and bake for 55-65 minutes, or until golden on top and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.