A spicy, cheesy and flavorful bread that looks as beautiful as it tastes, this jalapeño and cheese bread recipe is a delightful alternative to the ordinary wheat loaf. The swirl gives it an added visual twist, making it a fun bread for kids' sandwiches (you can use mild jalapeños), or to serve at Tex Mex-themed dinner parties. It's perfect for dipping into a bowl of pinto beans, a vegeterian chocolate chili, or paired with Mexican scrambled eggs.
Any kind of jalapeños can be used for this recipe, keeping in mind that green jalapeños are usually milder than ripened, red jalapeños. Canned and sliced peppers work well, as do dried ones that should be rehydrated in a bowl of water for at least a few hours before baking. Top the loaf with extra peppers if you wish, or go for cayenne for a much spicier version. Monterey jack is a mild but complimentary cheese, although pepper jack will give a bit more spice, and cheddar (especially sharp cheddar) will provide a tangier flavor, as it is typically aged for longer. A lesser known fact – jack cheeses are typically aged for less than a month, producing low amounts of headache-inducing tyramine, making it the safest cheese for migraine sufferers to enjoy.
Makes 1 large loaf
1 cup water + 1 ½ tablespoons baker’s yeast + 1 cup organic whole wheat flour
1 cup organic whole wheat flour
Approximately 2 ½ cups organic unbleached white flour
1/3 cup jalapeños, chopped (fresh, canned or re-hydrated)
½ cup organic monterey jack, pepper jack or cheddar cheese, grated
1 tablespoon organic safflower oil
To make a bread sponge, place 1 cup whole wheat flour in a large bowl, combine 1 cup lukewarm water with baker’s yeast in a measuring cup and pour over flour. Whisk until evenly mixed, set in a warm place and cover with a dampened linen cloth. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Gradually add additional 1 cup of whole wheat flour, mixing the dough with a large spoon. Slowly begin to add white flour while stirring, making the dough dense enough to knead with your hands. Keep adding flour while you are kneading, making sure to sprinkle it into the bowl in small amounts. This will allow the flour to distribute evenly into your dough, making the kneading process easier. Once your dough no longer sticks and has a spongy consistency with a relatively even surface and bounces back when you push your finger into it, shape it into a ball, rub it with safflower oil and place back into a clean, oiled bowl. Set in a warm place, cover with a dampened cloth and let rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
After the rise, sprinkle a cutting board or even countertop with flour, and stretch the bread dough onto it with a rolling pin or your hands. Make a rectangle that is the width of your baking dish, and double the height of the width. Spread jalapeños evenly across the flattened dough, and sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the jalapeños. Roll the dough in the same fashion as you would when making cinnamon rolls, making sure you begin on the short side of the rectangle. Place in a greased loaf pan, cover with a dry cloth and let rise for 30 minutes. Pre-heat your oven at 400° F for 15-20 minutes before baking. Bake for approximately 25 minutes and cool on a rack for at least an hour before serving.
Image: David Christian