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Poblano pepper and cheddar cheese bread

March 19, 2013

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With the fire and flavor of the roasted Poblano pepper and the generous amount of sharp cheddar cheese, this bread made with a pre-ferment makes a very hearty snack by itself.

This recipe starts the day before baking with a biga, a saltless pre-ferment that helps boost flavor from the flour.

 

Biga (made the day or night before)

2 1/2 cups bread flour

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

3/4 cups plus about 3-4 tablespoons moderate temperature water

 

Final dough:

All the biga

2 cups bread flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons water

3/4 cup water

5 medium size Poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, seeds removed, and diced

1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, preferably at least medium sharp,  1/4″  to 1/2 ” dice

 

For the biga,  stir together the flour and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Add most of the 3/4 cup water and mix together with a spoon to form a coarse ball of dough.  With the hook attachment, begin kneading on low using the mixer.  Slowly add more water as needed to begin forming a smooth dough.  Continue kneading for about 5-6 minutes until  the dough is soft and pliable.  It should be “tacky but not sticky”.  Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl making sure that the top of the dough is also oiled to prevent a crust from forming. Let it ferment until it is almost double in size. It will take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours depending on the temperature of the room. When ready, take the dough out of the bowl to a work surface and lightly degass it. Place it back in the bowl, cover with plastic and then place the bowl in your refrigerator.  It will be good for three days.

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For the Poblano peppers, you can fire-roast them directly on your stove top.  Hold them with fire proof tongs, rotating them to char the pepper all around.  As you remove them from the flame, put them in a container covered with plastic so the peel more easily separates from the pepper.  You can also roast them in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Turn them over half way through so that they roast evenly. Peel them once they are cool enough to handle. Cut them open to remove the seeds and dice to about 1/2″. Be careful when handling so that your fingers don’t burn. Peppers are not consistent in the amount of heat and flavor they hold.  These Poblanos were unusually weaker in moisture, flavor, and heat even though they did not appear to be drier.  You may need to cut back on the amount you use for the recipe if you come across more potent peppers.

Take the biga out of the refrigerator about an hour before you plan to start mixing to take the chill off.

1. Put all the biga, the bread flour,  whole wheat flour,  instant yeast,  olive oil, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer to stir together.  Add most of the water and mix together to form a coarse ball of dough.  Begin kneading using the dough hook attachment of your mixer.  Add more water as needed so that it begins to come together more smoothly.  Continue kneading for about 5-6 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. It should have good gluten development by now.

2  Gradually add the diced Poblano pepper while the mixer is running on low. If your peppers are moist,  you may need to add more flour as they incorporate into the dough. (You may also mix in the peppers by hand instead of using the mixer).  Remove the dough to a work surface and add the diced cheese.  It seems like a lot of cheese,  but there is enough dough to hold it.  Be careful not to handle the dough roughly.  I believe the cheese cubes cut the gluten strands as they are mixed in. It should be more of a folding than kneading.

3. Form the dough into a ball and put it in a lightly oiled bowl. Make sure the top surface of the dough is also lightly oiled. Cover with plastic and ferment until it is almost double in size.

4. Take the dough out of the bowl and lightly degass it. Divide it into 2 and form the portions into rounds.  Roll them on the work surface such that tension is formed on the  outer surface of the dough.  Put them  each on parchment paper, and loosely cover with plastic.  Let them proof until nearly double in size. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven (with your baking stone in place if using) to 500 degrees. If you don’t have a baking stone, you can place a heavy duty baking sheet in the oven as a substitute.

5. When the dough is ready, score them and transfer along with the parchment paper to the baking stone or baking sheet.  I mist the oven with a garden spray at least 3 times in the first 10 to 12 minutes. The bread is ready in about 20 minutes.  The internal temperature should read 200 degrees.  Put them on a wire rack to completely cool.

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