Jalapeno & Cheddar Sourdough
Have you tried this recipe?
San Francisco Sourdough Rules!
I was born and raised in the Santa Clara Valley in Central California, sixty miles from San Francisco. Sourdough was a staple in our house, particularly during weekend BBQs, when Mom would cut a loaf in half, slather it with melted butter, Rosemary and Garlic, and broil until crusted and deep brown. It was heaven, and it is the reason I've always been addicted to sourdough. In time, I started experimenting with sourdough cultures - which led to a LOT of kitchen fun! This recipe is one of my favorites.
Fresh out of the oven!
- 4 to 6 Firm Green Jalapeno Peppers
- 3 cups White Flour, Unbleached
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
- 1 Hot Red Pepper, Habanero, Cayenne, etc.
- 1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, Diced, Sharp
- 1/2 cup Active Sourdough Starter
- 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cup Water
Standard iodized salt should not be used when baking with sourdough, as the iodine may harm the Lactobacillus culture which is in symbiotic combination with wild yeasts.
Kosher salt does not contain iodine. The Kosher salt available in my area is comprised of relatively large crystals which are slow to dissolve. I run mine through my home flour mill to produce a fine powder - more like Confectioners' Sugar than salt. If you don't have a mill, you can use a common coffee grinder to break the crystals down.
Barring that, put the Kosher salt in one cup of the water to dissolve it before adding the now-salty water to the dough.
Milling Kosher Salt
Active Sourdough Culture
Step by step...
- I refrigerate my starter to keep it in a dormant state until I'm ready to bake, so Job One is to warm it up by removing it from the fridge and feeding it. It takes at least 12-18 hours before the culture will be active enough for baking (depending on climate, of course). See Photo One for an example.
- Add flour and salt together in a mixing bowl.
- Add 1 cup of water, mix well and allow 5 minutes for the flour to soak it up.
- Add 1/2 cup active sourdough starter and mix well. Add as much of the remaining water as needed to form a cohesive loaf. (Photo 2)
- Oil a bowl lightly, covering entire surface so your dough will not stick. (I use olive oil) Move your dough to this bowl, and cover with plastic wrap to prevent the dough from drying out. Let the dough proof for 12 hours. I usually do this between 8 and 9 at night so I can bake in the morning. It pays to plan ahead! (Photo 3)
- While your dough is resting, prepare the peppers. Slice the Jalapenos in half and remove the seeds and pulp. We want flavor here, rather than a lot of heat. A teaspoon is helpful in coring the peppers...as are rubber gloves! (Photos 4-9)
- Dice up about 1/2 cup of aged Cheddar cheese. By "aged," I don't mean Ancient. I found no benefit in using 5-yr-old premium cheeses instead of the 1-yr-old stuff. Refrigerate the peppers and diced Cheddar for use in the morning.
- 12 hours later, the dough will have greatly increased in size (see Photo 10). Nudge the dough out of the bowl - a spatula helps - and onto a clean, well-floured surface.
- Knead the chopped peppers and Cheddar into the dough until they are evenly distributed, then let the dough proof for another hour. (See Photo 11)
- Place your Dutch Oven in your stove's oven and heat to 475 degrees. NOTE TO SELF: Ovens vary in their ability to reach that heat, but you should know yours. Have a 475-degree oven ready in one hour.
- Do I really need to remind you we're about to deal with a very hot chunk of cast iron here? Be careful! When the dough has proofed an hour and the oven has reached 475 degrees, remove the Dutch Oven from the stove and remove the lid. NOTE TO SELF: Figure out where it's going before grabbing it.
- Carefully - and quickly - place the rounded loaf into the Dutch Oven. Don't burn yourself in the process. Replace the lid on the Dutch Oven and return it to your stove's oven.
- Bake at 475 for 30 minutes, then remove Dutch Oven's lid and bake an additional 15 minutes to brown the crust. Presto! (See Photos 12 & 13)
Photo 1: Active Sourdough Culture
Photo 2: Basic dough, ready to proof.
Photo 3: Proofing the dough overnight.
My Secret Weapon
Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan
If you do not have a cast iron Dutch oven handy, you can bake this loaf on a cast iron pizza pan like this Lodge. To create the desired crust, place a pie pan (nearly) filled with water on the oven's lowest shelf. This will help provide steam to enhance the crust.
My Enameled Cast Iron Pizza Pan
Twelve Hours Later
Jalapeno & Cheddar Sourdough
About those pepper-haters...
When my dragon boat team had a BBQ, I'd spend weeks telling them about this bread. You wouldn't believe the "I hate peppers" remarks that came back at me. When BBQ time rolled around, however, and they had a chance to surreptitiously nibble, they became Jalapeno-Cheddar sourdough fanatics, ready to sneak out the door with whatever remained of the sourdough. I hope you'll try this, and let me know the story....
If you don't have a sourdough culture, you can either buy one from Sourdo.com (my favorite source) or capture the critters in your back yard. Here's how to do dat:
1. Mix one cup of unbleached white flour and a half-cup of water in a glass bowl.
2. Put the bowl in the back yard (or your kitchen sink, for that matter) and let it sit for 24 hours. If it is bubbling, feed it with another cup of flour and half-cup of water and leave for another 24 hours - let the culture party!
3. If the flour/water goop turns black and ugly, throw it out and try again. If flour-loving racoons get involved, continue the hunt indoors.