I’ve been on a bit of a pickling kick lately. Ever since Jessica showed me how easy it could be, I’ve pickled cucumbers, garlic, cocktail onions, and long green hot peppers, which will henceforward be referred to as “jalapeños,” even though they obviously are not.
The jalapeños were purchased by Nick, to make salsa to go with the nachos we served to some French friends who came over for dinner one night last month. (We wanted to do something really American – and really good – for them.) I warned Nick against making the salsa too hot, and he acquiesced, on condition that he be allowed to add more peppers to the leftovers. Of course there weren’t any leftovers. So that’s how I decided to pickle a handful of peppers, with no real plan as to what to do with them afterward. It occurred to me, perhaps even as soon as I had them in the jar, that one really good thing to do with pickled jalapeños is to make jalapeño-cheese bread.
Armed with the Ratio, a new batch of starter (my old one died over the summer), and some Tillamook Pepper Jack cheese (thanks, Kiran!), I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. The only tricky part is getting all the tasty bits to stay in the bread. Kneading them in is not the best way. Folding them is. Like this:
Then it’s really just a matter of time while the bread proofs and bakes.
As you can see, my bread didn’t rise all that much, which I’ll admit gave me my doubts, but I carried on anyway, and am so glad I did!
We ate it that night with big bowls of chili, and later Nick made ham sandwiches for his brown-bag lunch. I can’t tell you how long it lasts, because this was gone in two days.
If you’re the recipe-abiding type, here’s what worked beautifully for me:
There are few things better than a turkey and avocado sandwich made on this bread. Unless you add bacon.
450 g / 1 lb. all-purpose flour
50 g / 1¾ oz. whole wheat flour
300 ml / 10 oz. water
30 g / 1 oz. starter (optional, but add another ¼ tsp. yeast if you don’t use it)
½ tsp. instant yeast
10 g / 1/3 oz. salt
150 g / 5 oz. pepper jack or cheddar cheese, diced
50 g / 1¾ oz. pickled jalapeños, chopped
- Combine flours, water, starter, yeast, and salt in a bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms, then knead 10-15 minutes, until the dough passes the windowpane test. Place in an oiled bowl (you can use the same one you just mixed in), cover with a dishtowel, and let rise until doubled in size. This can take anywhere from three to five hours, depending on the temperature of the room (warmer = faster) and the strength of the yeast and starter.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press into a rectangular shape. Cover 2/3 of the rectangle with half the peppers and 1/3 of the cheese. Fold the ungarnished side of the rectangle over the middle (garnished), then fold the other end over, like a letter. Press this new rectangle out a bit, and repeat the process. Do it one more time with the remaining cheese and roll the dough into a loaf shape. Place in a 23 cm / 9” loaf pan, cover with a dishtowel, and proof 1½ hours, until a finger gently pressed into the top leaves a lasting impression.
- 30 minutes before the bread is done proofing, preheat the oven to 230C / 450F. When the bread is ready to bake, cut a slash down the length of the loaf with a sharp knife or razor blade. Place in the oven and throw a couple of ice cubes in the bottom of the oven to create steam. Bake 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 200C / 400F. Continue baking for 30 minutes. Check the bread after 20 minutes or so – if the crust is getting too dark, reduce the oven temperature to 190C / 375F and bake another 10-20 minutes, until the internal temperature is at least 80C / 180F.
- Remove from the oven and cool 10 minutes, then take the bread out of the pan to finish cooling. This will ensure a crisp crust.
Makes 1 loaf.
Originally published on Croque-Camille.