So I have a confession: I’m apathetic about bacon. I know, string me up.
The last decade or so has seen a fanatic obsession with everything bacon. Bacon ice cream, bacon on doughnuts, the list goes on. While I’ve always been more of a breakfast sausage person myself, I will still go great lengths to use bacon fat in anything and everything. I’ve always loved the rich, savory element it adds to anything it touches, but the times I’ve actually gone out and purchased bacon from the grocery store are far and few between.
Working at a catering company, however, gives me access to a lot of bacon.
Which of course means I have access to a lot of bacon fat.
Most of it gets tossed out because there is just too much to utilize, but every once in a while I’ll save some to use in staff meals.
Many are familiar with the usual suggestions: Saute veggies, put it in your baked potato, sear your steak in it, etc.
Today I’d like to make the case for using bacon fat in your baking projects.
Months ago (when I was much better about feeding my sourdough starter on the regular) I wanted to make sourdough English muffins. My recipe calls for butter, but it was one of those rare days when I was fresh out. Waiting patiently in the back of my fridge from a forgotten brunch a month or so past, was a small jar of bacon fat. I had about 1/2 cup and it was just enough for English muffins. I considered walking over to the grocery store to just get some butter anyway, but thought “Eh, why not? Let’s try the bacon fat instead.”
Revelation. The rich savory flavor from the bacon fat was a perfect fit with tangy sourdough. I repeated the recipe a few times and got to thinking: How would it taste in other baked goods? And I wasn’t stopping at savory breads, oh no. I was using bacon fat instead of butter in my quick breads and muffins too. I wouldn’t use bacon fat in a strawberry shortcake or for lemon chiffon, but especially for fall flavors such as apple and pumpkin, bacon fat is a phenomenal fit. It adds a savory, well-rounded element to your baking, but it doesn’t taste like munching on a greasy diner breakfast. In fact, you can’t even tell it’s bacon fat. The flavor is rich without overpowering. Bacon-lovers rejoice, here is just one more excuse to stock up on your favorite breakfast staple.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bread with Bacon Fat
For Cream Cheese Swirl
8oz package of cream cheese (I prefer full-fat)
2 tbsp sugar
For Pumpkin Bread
1 3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup White Sugar
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/4 tsp Pumpkin Spice Blend
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Pumpkin Puree (I used canned for this recipe, but you can substitute fresh if you drain it well first)
1/2 cup Bacon Fat + extra for greasing the pan
1/3 cup Milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 and grease a 9in loaf pan with bacon fat. Whip together 1/2 cup of bacon fat with the brown and white sugar until light. Mix in the egg, pumpkin puree and milk. In a separate bowl, blend together the flour, baking soda, pumpkin spice and salt. Using a mixing spoon, fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. If you’ve got an electric mixer (standing or hand-held), beat the cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Dot the pumpkin batter with the cream cheese mixture, then use a butter knife to swirl and fold into the batter to create a marbled look. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely before cutting (I’ll be honest, I can never wait that long!)
Bacon fat has become my new secret weapon in sweet baked goods. The treats are deliciously familiar, but there is something you can’t put your finger on that makes all of your favorite flavors pop. The taste is subtle and inviting. Bacon fat may just be Autumn’s new go-to ingredient. You certainly haven’t seen the last of it around Beth’s kitchen.