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Jalapeno and cheddar cheese sourdough bread

March 23, 2014


If there was such a thing as a classic southwestern style sourdough this would probably be it.  Jalapenos and cheese are what first come to mind for ingredients when wanting to give bread a easy spicy flair.   A sourdough starter,  long fermentation times,  along with the jalapenos and cheese make this flavorful and hearty bread almost a meal in itself.  Some whole wheat flour and a small amount of rye flour give some additional flavor.

A sharp cheddar is recommended so that the cheese flavor comes through.   I make sure to keep this vegetarian by using a cheese made with vegetable rennet. Tillamook sharp cheddar is one recommendation.  Vegans are good to go by leaving out the cheese altogether.

For 2 large or 3 medium loaves

The levain:

1 tablespoon sourdough starter (refreshed about 8 hours before)

100 grams water at 78 degrees F.

50 grams bread flour

50 grams whole wheat flour

The final dough:

All of the levain

675 grams water at 80 degrees F.

600 grams bread flour

300 grams whole wheat flour

100 grams rye flour

20 grams salt plus 50 grams water

2 jalapenos roasted, peeled and most of seeds removed (about 45-50 grams)

1 3/4 cups cubed cheddar cheese (about 250 grams)


To make the levain put the sourdough starter in a small bowl and add the 100 grams water to dissolve.   Add the flours and mix until it is all moistened.  Cover with  plastic and let it ferment overnight.  It will take about 8 to 10 hours depending on the temperature of your work area. To determine if the levain is ready, drop a spoonful into a small bowl of water. It is ready when it floats.  I time the levain preparation so that I can begin making the final dough around 7 to 9 in the morning.  The bread making process will take most of the day.

Roast the jalapenos in a 325 degree oven for 15 or so minutes until they soften.  Remove all or most of the seeds and dice the pepper.

Make the final dough the next day:  Put the 675 grams of water in a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients.  Add the levain and dissolve.  Add all the flours and mix well until there is no dry flour.  Cover with plastic and let the mixture sit for 30 to 40 minutes.   Dissolve the salt in the 50 grams water and add to dough.  This can be done by squeezing it into the dough.  Put the dough into the bowl of your stand mixer and mix on low for about 5 to 6 minutes. It should be smooth,  elastic,  and sticky.  Add the diced jalapeno during the last couple of minutes of mixing.  There is a high amount of hydration in this dough. If you prefer a drier dough,  add more flour.  I recommend however that the dough still slightly sticks to the bottom of the bowl.  Remove the dough from the bowl and put it on your workstation.  If you kept the dough wet,  a marble pastry board helps in managing the stickiness.   Use a pastry cutter and wet hands to manipulate the dough to add the cheese.  It will seem like a lot of cheese but trust me,  it will all incorporate into the dough.  Place it in a lightly oiled bowl or container to ferment.  Cover with plastic.  At 30 minute intervals,  “turn” the dough.  This is done by grabbing the bottom of the dough and stretching and pulling  it over the top portion.  Do this motion twice.  Give a total of 4 turns at 30 minute intervals over the next 2 hours.  After the 2 hour “turning” stage,  let it ferment for at least 1 to 2 hours.  It will all depend on the temperature of your environment.  At 7o to 75 degrees you may need to let the dough develop for 3 or 4 hours.  When ready,  it will seem less sticky,  more airy,  and increase about 20% in volume.

Remove the dough from the container and place it on your workstation.  Lightly flour the dough and divide into 2 or 3 portions.  Flip the portions so that the floured side is on the bottom.   Use a pastry cutter and your free hand to gently form the portions into rounds.  Try to create surface tension by gently tucking in the dough to make the rounds taut. Lightly flour the rounds with flour,  cover with plastic, and let them rest for 30 minutes.  If you left the dough wet,  the portions will flatten out somewhat.  If they have spread out too much,  reshape and let rest again.  If you made the dough with a tacky or slightly sticky consistency,  you will not have a problem with it spreading out.

For final shaping,  lightly flour the tops of the rounds and gently flip them upside down with your pastry scraper.   For final shaping,  grab 1/3 of the dough closest to you.  Stretch it toward you and pull it over the center of the dough.  Take the right 1/3 of the dough, stretch it to the right and fold it over the center. Do the same with the left side of the dough by stretching it to the left and folding over the center.  Do the same with 1/3 portion farthest away from you.  Flip the dough over again so that you now have a smooth top.  Repeat with the other portions.  Because my dough had a high level of hydration,  I use bannetons for the final proofing.  It helps hold the shape of the dough during the 3 or more hours it needs for proper proofing.   Line your bannetons (if using) with a nice smooth kitchen cloth and dust with flour.  Place the dough upside down into the cloth-lined banneton.  I then lightly flour the top with flour and cover with plastic. You can also lightly spray with oil before covering with plastic to prevent sticking.  Repeat with all portions.  If not using bannetons,  just shape them as described and place them on parchment paper, covering as suggested. Let them proof for 3 to 4 hours.  They will have risen slightly in volume and become airier.

About 45 minutes before baking, pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees F.  Use a baking stone if you have one.

You are now ready to prepare for baking.   If you are using bannetons, remove the plastic wrap, pull back the cloth to fully expose the dough,  and cover with parchment paper.  Invert the banneton with the dough onto your peel.  To do this,  put your peel on top of the banneton and flip it over.   You will now have the dough-filled banneton  sitting on the parchment paper and peel.  Carefully remove the banneton and cloth from the dough.  Score as desired and repeat with the other rounds.  If not using bannetons, just carefully remove the plastic and score when the dough has finished proofing.  Place in the oven and lower the temperature to 425 degrees F.  During the first 10 minutes I carefully spritz the oven 3 separate times with water to simulate a steam injected oven.  This helps with the rise of the crumb and carmelization of the crust.  The loaves are ready when they reach an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.  You can also check by thumping the bottom of the loaves.  If they sound hollow,  they are done.

I’m taking this bread to The Novice Gardener’s Fiesta Friday.  She will be hosting a party of fun company with their contributions of tasty and interesting fare.


19 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2014 11:05 am

    Wow- Your bread is perfect!

  2. March 23, 2014 2:39 pm

    I’m definitely getting more and more comfortable with bread-making, but I still don’t really understand how the same recipe can sometimes give different results. I was making sweet rolls and they were so good that my kids polished them off before I had the chance to photograph. When I made it the second time, somehow the dough was wetter so I kept adding more flour. The end result wasn’t as great. Has that ever happened to you? This bread looks excellent with the big holes in it. Love that picture with the jalapeños!

    • March 23, 2014 4:28 pm

      Angie, it is frustrating when a bread doesn’t come out like you thought it would. Let me tell you I’ve had my share of “What in the…?! ” For instance, sometimes bread doesn’t rise as well as I would have liked it to. A scientist/detective’s spirit is almost a requirement for bread making! I make it a point to take notes on what’s going on like room temperature and timing. Different flours have different absorbent qualities. Even just a change of brands can make a difference. I’m sure you kept it as consistent as possible. I’ve heard that adding flour until near the end of kneading can be problem. I don’t know how your kneading went. Maybe the dough was good but it didn’t proof as it should have. That is the most common problem for my breads. I’m still developing a feel for it. It’s a never ending quest to consistently get to what I aim for.
      Looks like another great “Fiesta Friday is underway! It’s hard for me to get in earlier than I have.

  3. March 23, 2014 5:26 pm

    Gerard, this will go perfectly with rigatoni! I’ll bring the pasta (no pancetta!) and you bring the bread! What a feast!

  4. March 23, 2014 6:01 pm

    Wow! This looks amazing! My husband just made a sourdough starter and we’ve been exploring ways to use it. I think this will have to be next! Wonderful post and what a lovely blog! 🙂

    • March 23, 2014 6:32 pm

      Hi! Thanks for the nice comments and for following! You have a very tasty and interesting looking blog! .

  5. March 24, 2014 11:25 am

    I am always looking for a new recipe using my sourdough starter – I need to keep it fed! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. March 24, 2014 9:42 pm

    wow! your bred is perfect!

  7. March 26, 2014 4:39 pm

    This looks and sounds so delicious! I always have some nice sharp cheddar around but luckily I just bought some lovely jalapeños. I’m making this saturday. 🙂

    • March 27, 2014 12:14 am

      Thank you! Let me know how it goes! You can’t go wrong with a jalapeno and cheddar cheese combo.

  8. March 26, 2014 7:09 pm

    Wow …..l I have seen your work before Gerard, I guess while looking for some recipes to bake buns…and I was stunned at the way you had described your recipes and processes.
    Awesome bread and I am following your blog now 🙂

  9. March 27, 2014 1:28 am

    Hi Sonal, welcome to my blog! Thanks so much for the kind words and for following! I’ve been enjoying yours. You have a lot of beautiful creations there to enjoy and learn about.


  1. Fiesta Friday #8 | The Novice Gardener

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