I made my first Bing Bread in January 2015 using a recipe from Bon Appetit that came from a restaurant called Parachute in Chicago. Every time I’ve made it since, it never ceases to amaze me. It is so delicious because obviously it’s stuffed with such a generous amount of bacon, potato and cheese, how can you go wrong?
This bing bread, a 2018 special that’s basically just a scallion pancake in a bread avatar. It has both bacon and ham for an extra wholesome bite. I use two kinds of cheese instead of just regular ol’ cheddar and there’s a ton of chopped spring onions in the filling. My favourite bit about the bing bread though isn’t the filling, but the soy glazed crust on top studded with sesame seeds. If I could, I’d pull back all those dark crusts and dip them into the yoghurt butter that it’s served with. A favourite of mine, slices of this bing bread are great as part of a high tea menu instead of regular finger sandwiches. They taste best hot and are to be eaten like parathas with the yoghurt butter melting hot on top.
Ham, Bacon and Spring Onion Cast Iron Bing Bread
Yield 2 Bing breads
You can definitely play around with the filling for the bing bread. Processed cheese works well here, no worries, and you can definitely swap the bacon and ham for another cooked and pulled meat of your choice.
Active dry yeast 2 1/4 tsp
Warm water 2 cups
Sugar 3 1/2 tablespoons
Vegetable oil 2 tbsp
Potatoes 2, medium sized, cut into cubes
Green chillies 2, slit lengthwise and finely chopped
Salt and Pepper
Ham or luncheon meat slices cut into strips 200g
All-purpose flour 4 cups
Toasted sesame oil 2 tbsp
Spring onions 1 1/2 cups, sliced (green and white parts both, 1 whole bunch of spring onions)
Cheddar cheese 100g, grated
Mozzarella cheese 100g, grated
Soy sauce 2 tbsp
Sesame seeds 2 tbsp, lightly toasted (you can do this at 15 seconds bursts in the microwave as well)
For The Butter
Salted Butter 100g, room temperature
Homemade curd 2 tbsp, free from some of the excess water
Pinch of salt
Begin by whisking the butter, curd and salt together to make the flavoured butter. Let this lounge in the refrigerator till it’s ready to serve the bing bread.
In a frying pan or a cast iron skillet, heat 1 out of the 2 tbsp of vegetable oil over medium-high heat and once the oil is hot, lay the bacon slices in batches and cook the slices on both sides till the bacon is crisped up really nicely and has rendered its fat into the pan. You want to drain the slices of bacon on a paper towel using tongs once the bacon is crisp, while keeping the fat still in the pan. Crumble the crispy bacon with your hands and keep aside in a bowl.
To the hot rendered bacon fat, add the potato cubes with about 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper and saute the spuds, cooking them till they are fork tender. Halfway through sautéing the potatoes, add the green chillies and toss again. Once the potatoes are fork tender, drain the potato cubes onto paper towels as well.
Next up, in a bowl, combine the crumbled bacon, potatoes, chopped spring onions, strips of ham, two varieties of grated cheese, 1 tbsp of sesame oil and another 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Combine roughly with your fingers.
Now for the bread, dissolve the active dry yeast in a bowl with 2 cups of warm water, 1 tsp salt, 2 tbsp sugar and let this sit aside for 10 minutes or until foamy and activated. Add the 4 cups of flour and using your fingers in a bear claw motion stir to combine the dough and the yeasty water into a shaggy dough. Let this dough sit in a warm place to prove for 60 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Once the dough has doubled in size, you want to punch down the dough to degas and transfer the dough to a generously floured surface. Using a sharp knife divide the dough into two and set one piece aside covered with a wet cloth so that the dough doesn't dry out. Knead the other half of the dough in front of you until it goes from sticky to easy to manage and add more flour if necessary as you go, about 8 minutes.
Once the dough seems manageable and elastic, you want to brush any excess flour away from your work surface and roll out the dough to a 13-inch in diameter circle roughly and brush the surface with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil and sprinkle over half the bacon, ham and potato filling you have in your bowl.
Now starting from one corner of your rolled out circle start rolling inwards like a Swiss roll slowly and carefully, taking care that it doesn’t tear at any point. Once you have a rolled up thick sausage, carefully stretch the ends to even out and shape the thick sausage into a longer, thinner one, making sure that it’s evenly thin across the area. Now coil this sausage like a rope around itself to finish and press down to flatten it slightly with your fingers, so it feels like a thick stuffed paratha.
Pre-heat an oven to 200 degrees celsius for 15 minutes at least.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan once it is hot. Swirl the oil around the pan to evenly coat the edges. When the skillet is quite hot, lay the coiled up bing bread into it. The underside will start forming up a crisp golden brown crust. Brush the top with soy sauce in the meantime and let the underside of the bread continue browning and forming a crust. Check the underside after 4-5 minutes and if it’s golden brown, flip the bread to the other side and let it brown evenly as well. Brush this side with soy too.
Transfer the bing bread to the oven, skillet and all, and let it cook in the oven for 15-18 minutes or until the bread has cooked through completely. Sprinkle over lightly toasted sesame seeds on top and let it cool slightly before serving it in slices, topped with chunks of butter which should melt as it hits the top of the bing bread. Repeat this process with the reserved bing bread dough and once that too is baked and cooled a bit, serve both.