A few months ago I got myself going with a sourdough starter. A sourdough starter is basically fermented flour, and once you create this starter, you have to constantly feed it to keep it alive. And since so much work goes into keeping it alive, I’m always looking to try new recipes that use the sourdough starter. A lot of those recipes will end up on here, including sourdough bread, English muffin bread, and sourdough chocolate chip cookies.
(If you don’t have a sourdough starter yet, I’ll post directions in an upcoming post. Once I do that, I’ll link to it here.)
In addition to having this sourdough starter to utilize, I also have several jars of pickled hot peppers from last year’s garden that need to be eaten before the fall harvest and a fresh batch of peppers—so that got me thinking about a cheddar and hot pepper sourdough bread!
What I’ve done here is a bit of a mishmash of two recipes—my existing sourdough recipe and a cheddar jalapeño sourdough recipe I found online. I didn’t really like the steps of the new recipe, so I adapted my existing recipe to make a tasty hybrid.
Sourdough is remarkably simple in terms of ingredients. It’s literally sourdough starter (which is flour and water), more water, more flour, and salt.
With the sourdough recipe I use, I start the dough the night before and then let it rest and rise overnight at room temperature. You can leave it on the counter, but I have a cat that loves anything made with flour, so I have to stick it in the microwave or oven so it stays safe from him.
Theoretically, when the dough rests overnight, it should double in size. However, this is highly dependent on ideal local climate conditions and Winnipeg in the middle of winter is not an ideal climate. I’ve been told that Winnipeg in the summer isn’t ideal either. While I get some rise in my dough, it’s nowhere near double. So don’t panic if you don’t get the kind of rise you see on other blogs.
After resting overnight, it’s time to work in the peppers and cheese.
While this recipe is for jalapeño and cheddar sourdough, what I have on hand are pickled banana peppers. I like the taste of banana peppers better, but they’re also a lower on the Scoville scale, meaning they’re not as hot as jalapeño peppers—so if you like the sound of this recipe but you’re not sure if you can handle jalapeños, banana peppers might be the way to go.
(You can usually find pickled banana peppers in the condiments aisle of your grocery store, next to things like ketchup and mustard. If the jars are labelled with “mild” or “hot”, you’ll want to go with the hot ones. The mild ones can have the same heat level as bell peppers, which would be kind of pointless for this recipe.)
With the “pinch and fold” method, we start working the cheese and peppers into the dough. (Full directions on how to do this are in the recipe below.)
The original jalapeño cheddar sourdough recipe I looked up had the cheese and peppers mixed in with the dough at the very beginning. The end result would give cheese and peppers spotted throughout the loaf, whereas my method here results in a ribbon of cheese and peppers that runs through the whole loaf.
While I like the idea of cheese and peppers being spread throughout like little morsels of goodness, I didn’t like the idea of leaving the cheese (a dairy product) at room temperature overnight while the dough was resting. To be fair, that recipe had the dough in the fridge overnight, but if I’m having enough difficulty getting a rise out of my dough at room temperature, I’d have much poorer results in the fridge.
After resting for a bit we do another round of “pinch and folds” to work the cheese and peppers in a bit more. However, be a bit gentler at this stage. I found I’d ripped the dough in one spot and cheese started tumbling out; I hadn’t realized the cheese had migrated so close to the surface of the dough ball.
Now we let it rest one final time in a bowl lined with a towel and sprinkled with flour.
Toward the end of the 30-60 minute rest, we crank the oven up to 450 F.
Transfer the dough to some parchment paper—pinch seam side down—and cut some slits in it, then transfer the whole thing to a dutch oven.
Lower the heat to 425 F, then put the dutch oven (with the lid on) on the centre rack. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for an additional 40 minutes. If it looks like it needs a little longer, you could give it an additional ten minutes. (When I pulled it out and later sliced into it, it looked like it could have used just a little bit longer. The addition of the cheese likely altered the baking time just a little bit.)
Transfer to a wire rack and let it cool for at least an hour before slicing into it.
This was my first time making a cheddar and hot pepper bread and I would absolutely make it again!
Sourdough is usually chewy, but this was chewy and extra soft. The tang of the hot peppers had worked its way into the rest of the bread, so even when I wasn’t biting into a pepper, I could taste them. The cheddar cooked perfectly—not so cooked that it’s crunchy, but cooked enough that it’s solid.
This tastes wonderful at room temperature with some butter, but would likely taste amazing toasted, buttered, and served alongside a spicy pasta dish.
Jalapeño Cheddar Sourdough Bread
- 1 Dutch Oven
- 50 g Bubbly, active sourdough starter
- 330 g water (1⅓ cup + 1 Tbsp)
- 9 g salt (1½ tsp)
- 125 g Whole wheat flour (can round to 1 cup)
- 375 g All-purpose flour (can round to 3¼ cups)
- ¼ cup Jalapeño peppers, pickled or fresh, chopped (other hot peppers can be substituted; pickled banana peppers taste amazing here)
- ½ cup Cheddar cheese, shredded (go for an old/sharp cheddar)
- This recipe starts the night before and concludes the next day.
- The night before, whisk starter and water together in a large bowl.
- Mix in flour and salt with a fork until the dough becomes stiff and shaggy. Finish mixing with your hands.
- Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- After resting, work the dough into a ball using the "pinch and fold" method. Grab a pinch of dough at the edge and fold it / press it into the middle of the ball. Rotate the bowl a bit and do it again, repeating until you've gone all the way around. The dough will feel tighter as you do this.
- Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let it rise overnight at room temperature, about 10-12 hours.
- After 10-12 hours, the dough should double in size. Don't panic if it doesn't; while mine does get larger, it certainly doesn't double in size. A lot of this comes down to local climate factors and my local climate is not amenable to sourdough.
- Sprinkle flour on your work surface, like a counter or table. Scoop the dough out of the bowl and onto the work surface. Spread the peppers and cheddar on top of the dough.
- Use the pinch and fold method to start shaping the dough into a ball. Once you've gone around the whole ball, flip it over so the pinched seam is down. Cover with a towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Flip it over again so the seam is up. Pinch and fold the dough one more time. If you pinch and fold too hard, you might rip the dough and cheese and peppers might tumble out, so be gentle.
- Line a bowl with a dry towel and sprinkle the towel with flour. Let the dough ball rest in the towel, seam side up and with the towel edges covering it, for thirty minutes to an hour. The dough should rise some more, but again local climate may give you different results.
- Preheat oven to 450℉.
- Cut a sheet of parchment paper larger than your dough. Place the parchment over the dough and flip the bowl so the dough is now resting on the parchment in your hand. Set it down on the counter and with a sharp knife, make four shallow cuts at north, east, south, and west points (or 3, 6, 9, and 12 on the clock).
- Grabbing the edges of the parchment paper, lift the dough and place it into the dutch oven and put the lid on.
- Reduce oven heat to 425℉ and put the dutch oven in on the centre rack.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid. Bake for an additional 40 minutes. If the bread doesn't seem ready, bake for ten more minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least an hour before slicing.