The beauty of the bacon bap – better for you than Berocco

“In short, what we are dealing with here requires a little more than a Berocca and a bacon sandwich. (Incidentally these are the very best cures for a mild malaise – it’s all about the amino acids)”

Toby Wiseman, The Sunday Times, talking of hangover cures for Serious Occasions

We used to run a clay pigeon shoot jointly with our neighbour – he provided the land and the clay pigeons, we provided the food and the place to eat it. About fifteen times a year eight people (mostly male) would arrive, rosy cheeked, crunching their boots over the frost-frozen gravel, wearing shot guns and broad smiles. We’d have a roaring fire going and offer them steaming mugs of coffee – and these soft, warm bacon-filled baps to fortify them before they were off in the Land Rovers and out into the sparkling icicled countryside.

And these hearty mini-meals aren’t just good for those off to slaughter a few clays – the hot bacon bap is perfect for a simple bonfire night snack, and, as Toby Wiseman suggests in the quote above, for those suffering from a previous night’s surfeit. And it’s nothing if not enduringly democratic… for centuries (or at least the odd century) it’s been the fortifying breakfast of the working man, both urban and rural.

The bap, or roll (see the bottom of this post for definitions of ‘bap’), being a bit more robust, is better suited to the great outdoors – being wrapped in foil. for example, and stuffed in a pocket. But the bacon sarnie, in strictly unhealthy white bread of course, also has its fans…. Jay Rayner taking the lead in this and choosing it as his ‘last supper’, closely followed by Pete Brown.


Quotes about bacon butties, baps and sarnies

“It had to be a bacon sandwich. A bacon sandwich makes everything better. It is soft and it is crunch. It is hot animal fat, just on the edge of melting on the tongue. There is salt and, with the right loaf, just a little sweetness. We had the right loaf, from a bakery called Bread Ahead. You can have tomato ketchup or brown sauce if you wish, for acidity. We had made both available. And yes, of course, we had options for non-meat-eaters, though I know many, many vegetarians and vegans who have been drawn from their own moral path by the smell of a bacon sandwich. It is food for when you are drunk and for when you are exhausted and for when it just happens to be Tuesday. It is early-morning food and late-night food and hangover food and ‘please make everything better’ food. Even a bad bacon sandwich is good, and these were very good: we had asked Hannan for rindless bacon so nothing could get caught in people’s teeth, and for it to be smoked, because why wouldn’t you, if you had the choice? It deepens and intensifies the flavour.”

Jay Rayner, My Last Supper: One Meal, a Lifetime in the Making

“It’s the combination of simplicity and flavour that makes the bacon roll, sandwich or buttie so perfect. If you can slice bread and fry strips of meat in a pan till they’re done to your liking, you can make one of the best meals in the world.”

Pete Brown, Pie Fidelity: In Defence of British Food

“When Boris Johnson gathered the new inner core of his team for an 8am meeting last week there were just three others present — Steve Barclay, the Downing Street chief of staff; Guto Harri, new director of communications, and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor.


Someone had supplied bacon rolls. Johnson “tucked in enthusiastically”, joined by Barclay and Harri. Sunak declined, sparking memories of Ed Miliband, whose leadership of Labour never recovered from pictures of him wrestling with a bacon butty. “Being able to eat a bacon sarnie is critical for your advancement prospects in the political arena,” Harri said. Sunak laughed…..

…..What everyone agrees is that Sunak is a quick learner. On Friday he took his team out to lunch at the Blue Boar restaurant in Westminster. The chancellor’s choice: a club sandwich stuffed with bacon.”

Tim Shipman, The Sunday Times, February 13 2022



Of course, we tweaked and developed each time (the mushrooms are a key addition – they stop the whole thing from getting too dry), and in the end we were told that Brigitte, lead chef on these occasions, had achieved the sublime. Here’s how to do it.

Recipe for Brigitte’s beautiful bacon baps

Allow two each for the large, the hungry, and the greedy

Ingredients

  • 6 soft baps – if you are not familiar with this term, there is further explanation below.
  • 300g/10 oz ready-sliced mushrooms – or if not ready sliced you can slice them while you fry the bacon.
  • 18 slices streaky bacon – make sure it’s really good quality, and does not include a lot of added water – if you are lucky enough to live in Northern Ireland, your best source is Kennedy Bacon.
  • 2 tbps approximately grainy mustard
  • butter to spread and for frying

Method

  1. Butter a frying pan, and then fry the bacon (if it needs a bit more fat add some more butter); when crispy (ish) set aside to keep warm.
    2. Add a bit more butter and fry the mushrooms.
    3. Halve the baps, butter both cut surfaces, butter them, and spread them with the whole-grain mustard.
    4. Place three slices of bacon on the bottom half of each bap, spoon over the fried mushrooms, put the top of the bap on top, and keep warm (if you have an Aga put them on the warming plate covered in foil) until you are ready to serve with steaming hot coffee.

What exactly is a bap? Three definitions

Definition 1

bap
bap/Submit
noun:BRITISH
1.
a large, round, flattish bread roll, typically with a spongy texture and floury top.
2.
informal
a woman’s breasts.

From Oxford Dictionaries

Definition 2

“A bap is, at its simplest, a bread roll. At its more complicated, it is tender pillow of dough, often made with milk, lard, and butter. A more humble, Scottish version of the brioche. The bap is the ideal bread for a simple meat sandwich. Whether that meat is leftover boiled beef, mutton, bacon, or sausages, the bap takes a simple meat and elevates it to one of the most steadying sandwiches a person could crave. And it’s especially good for those mornings when soaking up all of last night’s bad decisions is a top priority.”

From the Serious Eats blog

Definition 3 (re, specifically, a Belfast bap)

“I’m advised to get there early to try the Belfast Bap.

The saying around here is that the word ‘bap’ is an acronym for ‘bread at affordable prices’. This isn’t true in terms of etymology, but it is true in Belfast: the Belfast bap was created by an Armagh baker called Barney Hughes to help feed Belfast’s poor in the 1845-49 famine, and stuck around as a favourite food for the workers in the docks nearby.

Appropriately, given the history of shipbuilding in those docks, the roll itself is of titanic proportions. It’s roughly the size and shape of the millennium dome, deep brown, almost burnt on top.”

From Pete Brown’s post, What Bacon Rolls Tell Us About the Decline of Civilisation

bacon bap recipe
Bacon baps, just the thing for a frosty morning.

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