From Cronuts To Piggy Tails
An article about the Cronut, an expensive and very popular hybrid pastry that merges a donut and a croissant, made me wonder if it was possible to create a donut filled with bacon.
At first, I envisioned a round jelly donut with a sweet bacon-jam filling. After some research I found a jelly donut dough that had the right balance of sweetness and texture, but the filling I’d put together from a combination of fresh cranberries, bacon, sugar, and ginger root overwhelmed the bacon, masking its savoriness. So I ditched the filling and changed my recipe to instead wrap whole strips of sweetened cinnamon-laced bacon in a jelly-roll donut pastry. I call these pastries Piggy Tails and my husband, friends, and neighbors think they have the potential to be commercially sold. I don’t know about that, but I do think they make the perfect surprise treat for Mother’s or Father’s Day.
If you’ve never made donuts with yeast dough before, don’t be intimated. The dough is easy to put together and rolls like a charm around the sweetened bacon strips.
Our cookbook Bacon Nation has many other recipes to make your mom or dad happy. Try the Downside-Up Apple Bacon Pecan Muffins, the Bacon-Cranberry Cornbread, Nuevos Huevos Rancheros, French Toast Bread Pudding with Bacon and Cinnamon, and the very easy Candied Bacon Slices.
Happy Mother or Father’s Day, and happy cooking from Bacon Nation!
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one 1/4 ounce packet)
½ cup warm water, 110 degrees F
¼ cup sugar, plus more for rolling and coating after frying, if desired
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour, or more as necessary
2 tablespoons soft butter
2 medium egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons low-fat milk or water, if necessary
Canola or peanut oil for frying
16 bacon slices
1/3 cup light brown sugar, more or less
Cinnamon to taste
1.) Whisk together the yeast, water, and 2 teaspoons of the sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Let the yeast mixture set until it foams, about 5 minutes.
If the yeast fails to foam after 5 minutes, throw it out and start again with fresh yeast.
2.) In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and 2 cups of the flour.
3.) Add the butter, egg yolks, and vanilla to the foamy yeast mixture. Mix for about 30 seconds on medium speed to incorporate the butter.
4.) Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter-egg mixture and mix on low speed just until the dough starts to come together.
Change to a dough hook and knead on medium-low speed for about 30 seconds to 1 minute just until the dough is combined and still slightly tacky. Be careful not to over-mix or you will toughen the dough. (You can also knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured work surface, about 1 minute.) After kneading, the dough should be slightly sticky. If it’s very sticky, knead in a little more flour. If it’s too dry, knead in a little milk or water, one tablespoon at a time, to moisten.
5.) Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
6.) While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
7.) Set the bacon slices on a rack over a large roasting or heavy, rimmed baking pan. (You may need two baking pans to cook 16 bacon slices.) Sprinkle each slice with about 1 teaspoon brown sugar and cinnamon to taste.
Bake in the preheated oven 10 to 12 minutes or until the bacon is cooked, but still slightly soft and not too crisp. Remove from the oven, cool slightly on the rack and then transfer the slices to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool completely.
8.) Transfer the raised dough to a lightly floured work surface and cut it in half.
Set one half aside covered. Roll the other half into a 12 by 6-inch rectangle, about 3/8-inch thick.
Slice the rectangle into 8 strips, each 6 by 1-1/4-inches.
9.) Fold a strip of the cooled bacon in half lengthwise. Lay the folded strip at one end of a dough strip and spirally wrap the dough around the bacon, pulling the dough slightly and overlapping it as you wrap.
The dough will be somewhat flexible; don’t be afraid to stretch it gently as you wrap the bacon. Leave ½ to 1-inch of bacon peeking out the end. Pinch the edges firmly so that they remain closed during frying. You can gently roll the “piggy tails” under the palm of one hand to press and seal their edges. Repeat with the remaining dough and bacon, transferring the pastries to a lightly greased baking sheet. Let rise, uncovered, until nearly doubled in size in a warm place, about 45 minutes.
10.) About 10 minutes before you are ready to fry the Piggy Tails, heat a large heavy-bottom pot with at least 1-1/2 inches of oil over medium heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Gently place the piggy tails into the hot oil, one to three at a time, depending on the size of the pot. Don’t crowd them in the pan.
Fry them about 40 seconds or until golden brown on one side. Turn them over and fry about another 40 seconds. (The exact time will depend on the heat of the oil. Adjust the heat, as necessary, to maintain the oil temperature of 350 degree F. Using long-handled tongs, transfer them from the pot to a paper-towel-lined cooling rack when they are a deep golden brown on both sides.
11.) If desired, in true jelly-roll fashion, roll them while still warm in a mixture of granulated sugar and cinnamon to taste. They are best eaten warm.