I saw a recipe for blooming bread online. What a fabulous idea!  It got the wheels a spinning in my whimsical little mind, and I had to give it a try.

I took inspiration from the original recipe, but went in a slightly different direction. Rather than one large loaf of sourdough bread, I opted to make little individual servings of this lovely bread, primarily so that I didn’t have to share. Is that wrong? I like knowing that I have my own little bread that’s all for me; I can savour it at my own pace, and avoid having to push and elbow my way into the immovable crowd that would inevitably be, unfailingly, surrounding this incredibly tasty bread. Think vultures. That’s what a communal version of this bread would reduce us to: fancy-bread-loving vultures preying on this sweet little bundle of joy. So, not only do these little individual breads help in promoting law and order, but they are also almost too cute for words.

Yesterday, I made homemade ciabatta rolls (recipe on its way): little, substantial, breads that ended up being absolutely perfect for my take on blooming bread. You need to use a solid enough loaf or roll because it needs to stand up to the slicing, stuffing, and baking, without disintegrating. My little half-wheat ciabattas were an excellent choice.

I cut the rolls as needed, caramelized some red onion, sauteed some mushrooms, chopped some curly parsley, cooked up and crumbled two of strips of my homemade vegan bacon, grated some sharp cheddar cheese, and got ready to stuff the anxiously awaiting, party hat-wearing, ciabattas.

Oh man. This is actually one of the best things that I have made in a while. <– a very bold statement.

Try this out and don’t be shy to be creative with the flavourings!

Blooming Bread

Ingredients

4 ciabatta rolls

2 red onions, sliced very thinly

6-8 white or cremini mushrooms

2 strips of vegan bacon, or the real thing

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

3 Tbsp curly parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Carefully slice your ciabatta rolls lengthwise and then widthwise (slice almost to the bottom, but don’t cut all the way through: it needs to stay intact).

3. In a medium-sized pan, saute the thinly sliced onion in 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp butter, salt, and pepper over medium-low heat until brown and caramelized (about 25-30 minutes). Be patient: it’ll be worth it! When caramelized, remove the pan from the heat, but leave the onions in the pan.

4. In another, smaller pan, saute the sliced mushrooms in 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil until brown. Don’t add salt until the end, or they won’t brown: salt causes the mushrooms’ water to break, making the browning possibilities slim to none. Once cooked, remove from pan.

5. In the same pan as you cooked the mushrooms, add another Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and cook your vegan bacon, flipping once, until browned and crispy on both sides. Removed from the pan and chop/crumble into small pieces.

6. Once both the onions and the mushrooms are finished cooking, add the mushrooms, the crumbled bacon, grated cheese, and chopped parsley to the pan with the onions. Taste it and adjust the seasoning, if desired, by adding salt and pepper (a dash of cayenne pepper would also be nice here). Stir gently to combine.

7. Being careful to not break the ciabatta rolls, stuff the breads with the onion/mushroom/bacon/cheese/parsley mixture; getting it in each and every crevice. Push it down, really get it in there. Repeat with all of the rolls.

8. Loosely wrap each roll, individually, in a piece of tin foil which has been very lightly greased (you don’t want your delicious filling sticking to the tin foil), place them on a sheet pan and bake them in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, open up the foil and place them back, uncovered, in the oven for another 15 minutes. At this point, I finished them off very quickly under the broiler to get a browned top, but this step is totally optional.

9. Let cool, slightly, and enjoy!

Oh goodness. Be still my heart.

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