Home-baked bread is always a nice offering for a dinner party, whether you are hosting or attending one with family or friends. A nice bottle of wine is an easy (and appreciated) fall-back, but when you present a loaf of home-baked bread, it shows that you put a little extra TLC into your thoughts. The recipe for the bread that I am sharing today is perfect for any upcoming holiday gathering, or for a nice Sunday family dinner. I’m using a basic Italian Herb Bread recipe that I found at allrecipes.com, and am adding two of my favorite complementary ingredients….pancetta and fresh sage. The combination of the two add a delicious salty and savory punch to an already flavorful bread. No need to be intimidated if you don’t have much bread-making experience. This recipe is fairly simple and basic, and is a great introduction for those who would like to give bread-making a try.
Pancetta Sage Herb Bread
inspired by a recipe found at allrecipes.com
4 oz diced pancetta (you can often find pre-diced packets in your grocery store)
3 tbspn fresh sage, finely chopped
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
3 cups bread flour
Sauté chopped pancetta over medium heat until fat is rendered and it starts to brown. Remove from heat, set aside to cool.
Mix yeast, warm water, and white sugar together in a large bowl. Set aside for five minutes, or until mixture becomes foamy.
Stir olive oil, salt, pancetta, sage, garlic powder, onion powder, cheese, and 1-1/2 cups flour into the yeast mixture. Gradually mix in the remaining flour. Dough will be stiff.
Knead dough for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and rubbery. Place in an oiled bowl, and turn to cover the surface of the dough with oil. Cover with a damp linen dish towel. Allow to rise for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Punch dough down to release all the air. Shape into a loaf. Place loaf on a greased cookie sheet, or into a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about a 30 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. Remove loaf from pan, and let cool on wire racks for at least 15 minutes before slicing.