Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Peppered Cheese Bread

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I didn't think I'd have time to bake bread this weekend, but we were having guests over for appetizers in the afternoon and I wanted to serve something I'd baked. When I ran across this recipe, it seemed perfect: it looked pretty fast and easy, and so full of flavor that it wouldn't much much matter that it hadn't had a long, slow rise for subtle flavor development. With 2 teaspoons black pepper and 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, this was not, I predicted, going to be a subtle bread! Nor was it. But it was very good in it unsubtle, but tasty, way.

Even after being kneaded by machine for five minutes, the dough was still too sticky, so I kneaded in more flour by hand,

and then flattened it out and sprinkled half the cheese on top.

This cheese is so orange it looks like grated carrots, but it's not.

More kneading, more flattening, more cheese.

You can see the little bits of cheese that have already been mixed in. It takes only about 45 minutes for the dough to double in size--ready to be shaped into a ball.

Another 45 minutes for it to be nice and puffy,

And ready for the slash-and-brush treatment.

I'm crazy about the shine you get with an egg glaze. Sometimes I wish I could brush an egg glaze on everything I make, but I don't because I'm a conformist at heart. Also, I suppose it would get a little monotonous.

I was just a bit worried about serving this bread to our friends because I just wasn't sure how the three teaspoons of pepper were going to play out in a loaf of bread. I pictured Bill and MaryAnn taking a bite of bread and spitting it out. Then I pictured myself getting angry because they spit out my bread, and pictured Jim trying to make peace. Fortunately, none of that picturing actually happened. The bread had a lovely peppery bite, but it wasn't at all overpowering and went very well with the tangy bits of cheddar.

I tried it the next day, toasted, as the base for a fried egg sandwich, and that was an inspired combination. All you have to do is have the courage to toss in a full tablespoon of peppers into a standard white bread dough, and you end up with a nice accompaniment to appetizers, a way to upgrade a plain dinner, or a surprisingly good piece of toast.



--from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison
1 1/3 cups milk
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 beaten egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1. Mix milk, yeast, salt, peppers, flour, and all but one tablespoon of the beaten egg into the bowl of a stand mixer.
2. Knead on medium speed for about five minutes. If it is still sticky, turn the dough out onto a floured counter and finish kneading until dough is smooth and workable.
3. Flatten dough and scatter half the cheese over it. Knead dough until cheese is mixed in, then flatten again, and add the rest of the cheese. Knead until all cheese is incorporated. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Turn once, then cover and set aside until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes to an hour.
4. Push the dough down, then turn it out onto the counter. Shape it into a tight ball. Cover and set aside until doubled in bulk again, about 45 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 375. (Optional: put baking stone on shelf in lower third of oven and let the stone preheat as well).
6. Slash an X in the top of the bread and brush with the reserved beaten egg.
7. Bake about 45 minutes, and turn onto a rack to cool.


faithy said...

Bread looks deli! You're really good with bread making Marie!

doughadear said...

I just love the shine on this loaf and boy it does look delicious. I could never imagine that anyone who want to spit it out no matter how much pepper is in the recipe. Thank you for posting the recipe – another bread for me to save in my bread recipe file.

Melinda said...

It looks like a very good bread to have for your dinner party. Tasty and tantalizing; not parochial bland bread. It does show how talented you have become in bread making.
I quite like the very orange cheddar cheese. Most of the cheddar here is butter yellow and doesn't really have such a nice effect as the orange coloured one does. So I think that the bright orange is a good thing.

Marie said...

Thank you--Baking an average of one bread a week for a period of three or four years does eventually give you some confidence. I'm still waiting for my cake-confidence to build.

If you knew MaryAnn, you'd know that the idea of her spitting is ludicrous. Sometimes my imagination goes into overdrive.

"tasty and tantalizing; not parochial bland bread"--very well written! I don't suppose Mad Men is on British TV? You could be a great sloganeer in a dysfunctional ad agency. I know that must sound so tempting.
When I first saw white cheddar, I couldn't imagine how they took out the orange color. It took me many more years to figure out that that wasn't the process.

Melinda said...

I love Mad Men.

Judy said...

Hmmm the bread looks so good.. I have been reading your blog and you inspired to get the Bread Bible..I love it,, making Foccata bread right now..I think I have time to make your lovely pepper bread too..I use to bake bread when my kids were small..I baked in coffee cans so I could get 10 loaves done at once !!

Marie said...

Me too!

What a good idea! I've heard of baking brown bread in coffee cans, but not of using them as all-purpose loaf pans. Very clever.

jini said...

you are too funny marie......setting up jim to be the arbitrator if needed. the bread looks really beautiful and sounds delicious. i admit that the peppers may have scared me a bit so i'm glad to hear that it was not too peppery! good job!

Goody said...

"Fried egg sandwich."

The three little words that have undone every diet I've ever attempted.

I know what bread I'm baking this weekend.



Marie said...

I was relieved that I didn't need Jim's skills as arbitrator or referee. I think maybe the baking helped mellow the pepper flavor out a bit. It was noticeable but not biting.

How can something so simple be so good? Too bad the bread is gone already--no more fried egg sandwiches on pepper cheese toast for me. But enjoy if you make it for yourself.

pinknest said...

This reminds me very much of a bread that I would eat in Texas alot! Although I guess jalapenos were also thrown in. That cheese IS radiating orange! I love it.

Marie said...

I think you could have jalapenos or black and red pepper flakes, but not both. Except maybe if you're from Texas.

Laurie Lathem said...

This looks incredible. I just made my first bread in many years and am inspired to try more! My 7 year old son just made great pizza dough and I have to keep up with him!

Unknown said...

I have made nine loaves of this in the past week. that is how good it is. get one done and before i know it... gone along with a plead to make another loaf.

Marie said...

I see great things in store for a seven-year-old who's making pizza dough.

Nine loaves! And just because people ask you to make more--you're an obliging sort of fellow, and a good friend.

Kathy said...

In searching for "pumpernickel meal" bread recipes, I found your site yesterday -- and then ran across your take on a spicy-hot cheese bread. Well, you got my attention. Have you ever been to the farmers' market on the Capital Square in Madison? Stella's Bakery is well-known for loudly selling their Hot Spicy Cheese Bread at the market. (Here's a bit about them: http://www.dcfm.org/detailsv.asp?ownername=harn&ID=93) As I would diagnose it, it's a fluffy, cinnamon roll-like bread base flavored with jalapeno bits and hot pepper flakes. Then, rather than bits of shredded Cheddar, the dough contains large swaths of provolone and, I think, mozzarella. Many first-time market attenders are urged to look out for the Stella's stand and buy a warm-from-the-oven loaf, and for good reason: it's damn near addictive the first (and maybe second and third) time you eat it. Friends introduced me to the market some seven years ago, and we used to eat most of a loaf on the hour-long drive home. As a fellow bread-baker (though I love to bake everything else, too -- years in 4-H helped with that), I have long wanted to recreate Stella's famous bread. Maybe this year.

Anyhow, thanks for your post on such a warm, spicy bread. I hope to try your recipe soon, and I look forward to reading the rest of your blog.

Warmest regards from Madison, WI!


Marie said...

I've never been to the farmers' market in Madison, nor have I heard of Stella's cheese bread, but I don't live that far away, and it's not impossible that I'll land there sometime this summer. If I do, I'll be sure to get a loaf of it. Maybe you can improvise with this basic recipe and come up with something that's even closer to Stella's.

Matt said...

i now know the recipe by heart. seriously HUGE hit in my household especially with a nice brisk new england snow fall out. I just made probably my 20th loaf and this time i used a nice swiss gruyere.

And Madison and their illustrious and much envied farmers market have been there many many times and stella's is the best on the isthmus.

Anonymous said...

I would like to say thank you for this posting - I know it's a long time ago, but hay it's here right? I made this loaf last night and took the lazy person's approach and let the bread maker do it's thing until a perfect dough was reached. Let it rise again and baked it, absolutely fabulous, will definately be a "go to" recipe for me.
South Africa