Cheddar & Jalapeño Boule

A spin off of last weeks post, this wild leavened sourdough is studded with cubes of sharp cheddar cheese and a fresh jalapeños.  One of my latest tricks is to cut my cheese into little cubes instead of grating it.  This allows for mini pockets of melted cheese throughout the bread, ensuring that the cheese doesn’t meld directly into the dough and disappear.  I also added some cajun belle peppers for some additional color.  It didn’t photograph well, but the bread’s interior is dotted with brightly colored green and red peppers.

Here’s another little trick, if you’ve ever cooked or baked with fresh jalapeños before, you’ll know that they come in a range of spiciness from relatively tame to exceedingly hot, the trick is how to determine their level of spiciness before cutting into them so that you may then choose the adequate amount of heat for your bread.  This skill takes a bit of practice, and might result in several odd looks in your direction at the grocery store, but if you sniff the jalapeño while whole and can feel the slight brush of heat at the back of your throat and a tiny tingle in your eyes, you’ve selected a hot one.  Likewise, if the pepper hasn’t been pretreated with wax, and you rub your fingers along the outer skin and feel a slight tingle, you have selected a hot one.  It’s not a precise science, and it takes some practice, but I treat it as a challenging guessing game every summer when I harvest the jalapeños from my garden, and each year I seem to get better at my selections.  Of course, you can always just cut open the jalapeños and find out, but where’s the fun in that.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cup Wild Yeast Leaven (or make a sponge out of 1 tbsp Yeast, 1 cup water, and 1 cup Flour)
  • 1 cup warm Water
  • 2 cups Bread Flour
  • 1-2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tbsp Sweetener (maple syrup, agave, sugar, or honey)
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 diced Jalapeños (seeds removed)
  • 2 diced Cajun Belle Peppers (optional, for extra color)
  • 12 oz Cheddar Cheese cut into small cubes

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Directions:

  1. In a standmixer combine the wild yeast starter, water, and sweetener.
  2. While continuing to mix, add in 1 cup of bread flour.
  3. Add in the salt.
  4. Gradually add in the remaining flour until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl.
  5. Stir in the jalapeños and cheddar cubes.
  6. Knead the dough, with a dough hook if possible, until it begins to bounce back slightly.  You will notice how the texture of the dough is different from the texture of dough made from commercial yeast.  It seems to be slightly slacker then commercial yeast dough, and takes almost twice as long to form that characteristic elastic bounce.  When it does start to bounce back, the response will be slight and slower then what you would normally expect to see with commercial yeast.  The dough will also look pretty scraggly and rough compared to the smooth surfaces of commercial yeasted bread.  This is due to the higher gluten content we’ve introduced into the dough with the use of bread flour.  Don’t worry, as the dough rests, and the gluten activates the dough will take on its characteristically smooth appearance.
  7. Place the dough into a greased and sealed container.
  8. Allow the dough to rise in a warm spot until doubled, 2-5 hours.  My kitchen tends towards the cold side of things, which can really affect how long it takes my dough to rise.  I sometimes preheat my oven to its lowest setting, turn the oven off, wait 5-10 minutes, and then store the dough directly in the oven to keep it warm.  If you choose to do this, you want to make sure that the oven has sufficiently cooled, so that you are not cooking the dough, and that your dough rising container is tightly sealed, so that the dough does not dry out.
  9. Punch down the dough, and lightly knead it by hand until the dough smooth and bounces back slightly.
  10. Form your dough into the desired boules.
  11. Cover your boules so that they do not dry out, and allow your dough to rise until doubled for a second time.  Once again, the warmer the kitchen the faster the bread will rise.  Don’t over proof, or the bread will deflate on itself.
  12. A hour to half a hour before baking preheat your oven to 425 F (218 C).  If you are using a baking stone preheat your oven for slightly longer and at a higher temperature before reducing the heat back down to 425 F right before sticking the bread in.
  13. Score the bread.
  14. Fill a baking pan with several handfuls of ice cubes, and place it on the bottom rack of your oven.
  15. Bake the bread for 45-60 minutes.

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