Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jalapeno cheddar bread recipe

Baking bread is therapeutic to me. The measuring of the ingredients, the smell of the yeast as it comes to life, the kneading of the dough, the smell as it bakes, the taste of a still warm loaf. Yes, I love every aspect of baking bread. Perhaps my favorite aspect of baking bread is experimenting. I like to play around with different ingredients to achieve unique flavor combinations. The following recipe is the end result of my many experimentations.

  • 8 cups flour
  • 5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup minced jalapeno peppers (1 small can)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water (110-120 degrees F)
  • 3 packages (.25 oz) active dry yeast
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
In a large bowl, combine 7 cups of flour, cheese, jalapenos, 7 tablespoons sugar and salt. Mix all ingredients well. In a separate bowl, combine water, yeast and remaining sugar. Stir until all yeast is dissolved and let sit for about 10 minutes. Add olive oil to the liquid mixture, stirring constantly. Add half of liquid mixture to the flour and mix with hands to moisten flour as much as possible. Add remaining liquid to dough and mix until flour is thoroughly mixed into the liquid. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until smooth and elastic (approximately 15 minutes). Use remaining 1 cup of flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Pour a little olive oil into the bottom of a large bowl and add dough. Invert dough and cover with a dry dishcloth and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size (approximately 1 hour). Punch dough down. Divide into 3 equal portions, form each into a ball, then stretch dough and tuck edges under so create a smooth surface. Pop any noticeable air bubbles then form into loaves. Place in a sprayed 9X5 loaf pan, cover again with a towel and allow to rise until almost doubled again (45-60 minutes). Bake at 325 degrees F for about an hour. Halfway through, rotate pans to ensure even baking. Crust will be a rich, golden brown (see photo above) when done. Remove from pan as soon as bread will easily lift out and allow to cool an hour before slicing.

Cook's Notes-The beauty of this recipe is its versatility. It has a rich, warm flavor that can be tweaked to please your personal palate. Like more heat? Add a couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce or a few shakes of red pepper flakes. If more cheese is your thing, add another cup to the recipe. You can also try different types of peppers and cheeses until you find the flavor that suits you best.

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