Soft ciabatta laced with salty pancetta from Bread Ahead Bakery
Ninety-five per cent. That’s how hydrated a loaf of ciabatta, hand folded, proved and baked at Bread Ahead is on a Friday morning. Incidentally, it is more or less how hydrated proponents of ‘thirsty Thursday’ can find themselves in the pub the night before.
Then morning breaks and with it, an irresistible and necessary craving for bread, bacon and as much water as can be stomached by a stomach not entirely clear of the booze. Cue pancetta ciabatta: soft, stretchy dough laced with lunar-like holes and, in this case, salty nuggets of pink, pearlescent pancetta, the ‘Italian bacon’, dry cured and chewy.
This is not just a bacon sandwich. This is the closest you’ll get in Borough Market to the edible equivalent of a long bath, tracksuit bottoms and an entire series of Game of Thrones.
Devouring in chunks
“It lasts for a few days, because it is so moist,” says Justin, head baker and co-founder of Bread Ahead, the home of this gift to a hangover. The use-by date proved unnecessary, though—devouring it in chunks was the most self-restraint we could show.
“We fold through the pancetta rather than mixing it, which is hard on the dough,” Justin explains. “The folding gets those pockets of aeration and distributes the pancetta nicely. After that we bake it”—the 260C temperature lending a warm, golden hue to the smooth crisp surface through which the odd rosy nub of pancetta pokes seductively through.
It can be eaten as is; it’s moist, warm and tempting enough. But if you do have a roll left the next day, take heed of Justin’s advice and head to Northfield Farm: “I like to fill it with more bacon. It’s not all you can do with it, but on a hangover it’s the best thing.”