your own blt

I know, I know, you know how to make a BLT.

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You know to toast up some good white bread and to slather with mayo. You know to pop on some crisp lettuce, and to layer with thick cut tomatoes. You know to go heavy on the bacon. You know it’s best eaten immediately. You don’t need me.

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Before I slink out of sight to wallow in my obsolete existence, let me pass on two things to you – the tip of a century and also variations. I like to think that in our lives where recipes tell you exactly how much of everything to put in, and exactly how long to bake it and exactly what it should look like… that we’re actually forgetting how to cook. We don’t learn to look in the fridge and make a meal – and not to be worried if it doesn’t look like it could get lots of likes on Instagram. All food isn’t beautiful. And all recipes could use a twist – and I’ll give you a few of my ideas but I know you’re also full of them.

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As far as a tip goes – bake your bacon! I’ve made many a mess with bacon on the stovetop, and ruined many a shirt. If you’re only making bacon for one, I’d still use the method that’s slowly whittling my wardrobe, but if you’re making BLTs for a crowd (which you should), this is the way to go. Simply heat the oven to 400°F, line a pan with foil and plop your bacon on, and bake for 15-20-more or less minutes until the bacon is the level of crispy you desire. Easy cleanup – thank god, and easy BLT eating. Also – butter lettuce was almost the star of the show here, and that’s really saying something.

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As far as twists, here’s what I got for you:

BELT it: Add an egg! Perhaps fried with a runny yolk… perhaps hard-boiled and sliced.
Chz it: I also don’t need to tell you to do this. Sharp cheddar is usually my go-to, but I’m not saying no to some gouda. Or Gruyere. Or Parm. Actually I’m not saying no to any cheese, ever.
Heat it up: Double meaning: if you chz it, maybe also panini it? BLT grilled cheese… yes. I’m saying yes. Second possibility, stir some sriracha into your mayo before you slather it on.

Here’s how to bake your bacon, in step form, for those of us that aren’t that great at following paragraph instructions (me):

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil, and place bacon in a single layer.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on how crispy you’d like your bacon to be!

Now – go forth and prosper. I know you will.

breakfast challah

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I feel like bacon tends to be more of a buzzword than a flavor these days. We make bacon doughnuts, bacon lollipops and even bacon flavored ritz crackers. While I’m the first one to take a deep appreciative sniff of bacon, I feel like it’s too much, almost.

Then breakfast challah walks in. And boy, does it make an entrance.

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A sweet, eggy loaf laced with bacon and loaded with maple syrup flavor. It’s sweet, salty, maplely fun. Growing up mostly in Vermont, I stand firm in my need for real, thick, maple syrup. Grade A Amber is my favorite, but I don’t really care as long as it actually comes from a tree. You might find that the maple flavor is somewhat hard to coax out in glaze, so I kick it up a notch with some vanilla extract. While I’ve never actually tried maple extract, it seems like that could help boost as well – so do as you wish, seems like you couldn’t possibly go too wrong.

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Feel free to inhale this bread, ten minutes out of the oven, with some salted butter. Or, if your stomach is allowing some semblance of patience, fry up an egg and slap it on a toasted slice of this bread. My dad suggesting french toasting it…. and on that note, I’m off to make more.

breakfast challah
challah recipe adapted from molly on the range
makes two loaves

for the bread:
41/2 teaspoons (about two envelopes) of active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup sugar
6 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 large eggs
2/3 cup flavorless oil (i used sunflower)
1/4 cup brown sugar

maple-bacon mixture: for one loaf. if you’d like two breakfast loaves, double this and the glaze. 
Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with a pinch of salt
8 strips of bacon, cooked until crisp
3 Tbs maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt

for the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbs maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbs half and half (or cream, or milk, or anything. you know the drill).

how to:

In a medium sized bowl, combine yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Stir it together, and let it sit for about 5 minutes, or until it starts to foam.

While it’s foaming, mix the flour, salt and remaining white sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, and put the dough hook on. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and brown sugar.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, and immediately add the egg mixture. Knead with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and somewhat sticky. If it is really sticky, add a bit of flour, but try not to add to much, since it will make the dough tough.

Turn the dough out into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, about two hours.

In a small bowl, place 5 chopped strips of bacon and toss with the maple syrup. Chop the other 3 strips and set aside in a small bowl, for topping.

Once the dough is doubled in size, turn it out onto a slightly floured surface, and divide in two. Keep one half covered while you work with the other. Divide the half into three pieces, and pat/roll each piece into a twelve inch log, and pat out about three inches wide. Divide the mapled bacon between the logs, and roll them up like a jelly roll and pinch to close. Pinch the ends together, and braid down, pinching the ends as well.

Place on a baking sheet with parchment, cover with a dishtowel, and let rest for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Brush the loaves with egg wash, and sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, and an internal temperature of 190°F. Check for completion at about 28 minutes.

Let them cool, eat while warm with butter, fried eggs, and more bacon, or glaze when room-temperature with the maple glaze. To make the glaze, combine the cream, maple syrup, vanilla, and powdered sugar and stir until smooth. Add more maple, cream, or powdered sugar as desired. Top with reserved chopped bacon.