Bread was a hard one for me, y’all. I mean, I REALLY struggled to make a good loaf of bread for an embarrassingly large about of years. Some loaves were heavy, leaden and resembled bricks more suitable for masonry than sandwiches. Still others were overly soft and delicate, shredding at the mere sight of a serrated knife. Around five years ago I found myself watching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen, and my bread has never been the same. It really is all about using the right flour — bread flour, that is. Now, my sandwich loaves are springy and structured, just as they should be. I even entertain myself with the occasional “novelty” bread. Like this Cheddar Chile Bread (another ATK/Cook’s Country inspiration). Cheesy, and studded with spicy diced green chiles, this cheddar chile bread is a perfect complement to a roast chicken or a Southwest inspired soup.
This puffy golden coil of bread-y, cheese-y, and chile laden goodness looks far more difficult to create than it actually is. For convenience sake, I like using a small can or two (depending on just how much chile action I want) of diced green chiles. Hot or mild depending on your personal preference. The green chile packed dough is soft and pliable requiring only moderate kneading. After the first rise the dough is rolled to into a rectangle, covered in cheese, rolled into a doughy sausage and coiled into an oiled cast iron pan. During baking, the fragrant loaf develops a golden crust and gooey, cheesy layers which nicely offsets the pungent heat of the chile peppers. Cut into generous wedges and slathered with butter, this cheddar chile bread is sure to become a family favorite.
Cheddar Chile Bread
- 1 packet or 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- ¼ cup bread flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
- 1 cup warm water
- 4 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 1-2 4oz cans of diced green chiles (hot or mild)
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 whole eggs
- 12 oz cheddar cheese, in ¼” cubes, at room temperature
- Combine yeast, ¼ cup bread flour, sugar or honey, and warm water. “Proof” until the yeasts are rehydrated and bubbly, producing a yeasty fragrance, about 20 minutes. If you prefer, you may use a 1 1/2 cups sourdough starter in place of the previous sponge and skip to step two.
- Add butter, chiles, chili flakes, salt, eggs and yolk to the yeast sponge and combine thoroughly. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, start adding flour in ½ cup increments until it is a cohesive ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl, but is still slightly sticky.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes. The dough should be smooth, soft and slightly sticky. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
- After the first rise, turn dough out onto a well floured surface. Work into a coarse rectangle, then roll to approximately 12” wide by 18” long. Sprinkle surface with the cubed cheddar. Tightly roll the cheesed studded dough lengthwise to form a long log. Pinch the ends and roll log back and forth a few times to seal seams.
- Coil log, from center out, in the bottom of a greased cast iron skillet. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise onto doubled in size, about an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. After second rise, remove plastic wrap, and brush with a beaten egg if desired. Bake for 50 minutes, covering loosely with aluminum foil after about 25 minutes to avoided overly browning.
- Remove for pan and slice into large wedges, slather with butter and enjoy.