Cheddar jalapeño sourdough gets eaten with crazed enthusiasm in my house, though my kids always say the bread needs more cheese. More more more.
Requests such as, “You need to make more cheese ooze out onto the crust because it tastes good burnt,” made me discover cheese as a proofing basket liner. Also, bran flakes on occasion, because they’re more appetizing as a cheese grease crust sponge than flour, which makes a paste.
People often ask if the bread is very spicy, and that really depends on your individual spice appreciation. I use a couple of medium jalapeños per loaf, but you may want to start with less, and even remove the seeds.
I saute the chopped jalapeños in a little oil and mix the peppers and oil into the bulk fermenting dough so the spicy flavor is spread throughout the crumb, rather than hitting your tongue in isolated bursts as it might if the peppers were added during shaping.
In this recipe, I’ll give you cheese variety (medium cheddar), amount (6 oz), format (chunks) and when to add to the dough (during the preshape), but you can use the cheese you like and do what works with your baking style. For example, you can use shredded cheese, adding at the start of the bulk, and skip the stretching and folding. This works fine!
The same flexibility applies to flour variety and hydration (amount of water). I happen to like a touch of whole grain rye and more than a touch of whole grain red something-or-other (red fife, hard red, turkey red), up to about 50% of the flour weight.
Here is a quick visual guide to adding the cheese during the preshape, which is described in the recipe instructions below, too.
This recipe is meant to be a launchpad from which you discover a cheesy spicy bread you love. If you are really into spiciness, I suggest serrano peppers, which are actually what I used in the photo at the top of this post. Serranos are somewhere between a smidge spicier and ten times spicier (10,000 – 23,000 Scoville heat units vs 2,500 – 8,000 SHU). I think I’ve hit the upper limit of cheese, though, and if you use more, you may end up with a heavy oily bread. But don’t worry, my children will come over to eat it! 😉
Cheddar Jalapeño Sourdough
- 300 grams bread flour 75%
- 80 grams whole grain flour (red fife, turkey red, hard red…etc) 20%
- 20 grams whole grain rye flour 5%
- 300 grams water 75%
- 30-40 grams chopped and sauteed jalapeños and oil (1-2 peppers) 7.5-10%
- 70 grams sourdough starter 18%
- 7 grams salt (~1.5 tsp) 1.8%
- 6 ounces medium cheddar (170g), divided. Approx four ounces for the dough, two ounces for the crust 43%
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil for sauteing the peppers
- 2-3 Tbsp bran flakes for the proofing basket (optional)
- Chop the jalapeños in half (leave the seeds if you like spicy food) and then in slices. Saute them lightly in olive oil, to release flavor into the oil. Stop while they are still bright green.
- Mix all of the ingredients together except the cheese. (You can add the cheese now if you really want, all will turn out fine.
- Cover and let the dough ferment until puffy and bubbly, 5-10 hours depending on the room temperature. To strengthen the dough, you can do four rounds of stretching and folding at 30 minute intervals, after the mixed dough has rested 30 minutes. Or you can retard the dough in the refrigerator for 10-12 hours, which will also improve the gluten structure.
- Cut 3/4 of an 8-ounce block of cheddar into small chunks, about the side of half of a domino. Slice the remaining 1/4 of the block into thin long slices and set aside for lining the proofing basket later if you want a cheesy crust.
- Scrape your fermented dough out onto a floured counter and stretch it into a rectangular shape.
- See the photo gallery for a visual explanation of the following instructions:Lay 1/3 of the cheese chunks into the middle third of your dough. Fold the left third over the middle. Lay another 1/3 of the cheese onto the dough that you just folded over. Cover it with the right third of the dough. Lay the remaining 1/3 of the cheese onto half of your now-narrow rectangle, then fold the other half over, onto the cheese.
- Let the cheese-filled dough rest 15-20 minutes while you prepare your proofing basket. Options include sprinkling the basket lightly with bran flakes and lining it with your long, thin cheese slices.
- Shape your dough gently into a boule or batard. I usually only flip it into the basket and then stitch the sides a bit.
- Proof the dough 1-2 hours at room temperature or longer in the refrigerator. During the final 30 minutes of the dough’s final proof, preheat your oven and baking vessel to 500F.
- Flip your dough onto parchment or into your baking vessel. Make sure the cheese and bran-flake side is up. Note: If you have an unenameled clay baker, the cheese oil will stain or “season” the interior. Use parchment if you don’t want this to happen. (I personally don’t mind it.)
- Score the dough, cover and bake as follows:500F for 20 minutes lid on450F for 10 minutes lid on450F for 5-15 minutes lid off
- The internal temp of the bread should be 205F or higher. Be careful moving the bread around when it’s still hot as oil from the cheese burns skin easier than dry bread crust.