Monday, 24 November 2014

Jalapeño Cheesy Bread

I'm sandwiched between 'work' and all of the work I have to do for the various Thanksgivings I'm attending/hosting this week, so I'll be brief. If you want an easy party trick to impress your colleagues or friends, this is it! I've used this recipe several times and it never fails to impress. All you need are jalapeños, cream cheese, shredded cheese, a basic bread dough, and 2 1/2 - 3 hours lead time. This recipe requires patience but the payoff is well worth it.

To start:

Mix flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix lukewarm water with yeast and lukewarm milk. Whisk together until the yeast has dissolved and pour into the larger bowl, along with the melted butter. Knead together, either with a dough hook or by hand. I found the dough to be a bit dry, so add a few more tbsps of water as necessary. 

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead into a ball. Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl (vegetable or olive oil will do but why waste the olive oil, right?), cover with a damp cloth, and place in a warm, dry place for 60-90 minutes and let rise. The original recipe says you should chill the dough here and that works well if you need to hold off on the rest of the recipe for a while (will keep for 4 days) but I always skip this step and have no issues.

While the dough is rising, rinse and slice the jalapeños, removing the seeds, and placing them cut side down, on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Set your oven to broil and put the jalapeño tray on the middle rack for about 6 minutes. Once the jalapeños are blistered and blackened in places, they are done. Remove from heat and put in a ziploc baggie, placing them in the fridge to cool for at least 15 minutes. Once cooled, remove the skins (they should peel right off) and dice. Mix the diced jalapeños with the cream cheese and set aside.

Punched down dough
Once the dough has risen to double its original height, punch back down and place back on the lightly floured surface. Separate the dough into two halves and roll each out into a long rectangle - about 8-10 inches wide by 16 inches long.

Working with one half of the dough, spread half of the cream cheese, jalapeño mixture on the surface, leaving about half an inch of space around the edges. Cover the mixture with shredded cheese and carefully roll the dough up, starting from the outside, long edge. Pinch the seems together and place, seam down.

Next, using a knife or dough scraper, cut the log of dough in half, lengthwise.


Set both halves cut face up and begin to braid the dough, twisting the halves together while remembering to keep the cut faces up. *It is much easier to start the twist in the middle of the dough and work your way out towards the ends, tucking them under when you reach them.

Repeat with the second piece of dough and place both, side-by-side, in a greased 13x9 pan. *Placing them in this pan will force them to keep a nice, square shape while they bake and you will have to squish them a bit to fit but don't worry about it. At this point, I was worried about the two loves baking into one, giant piece but my roommate told me to try a technique her dad uses, which is not unlike the process used to shape and bake baguettes. When placing the two twists in the 13x9 pan, place each one in a piece of parchment paper. This way, they can cook side-by-side, without the risk of melding together. Once settled, saran wrap the pan and place in a warm, dry area, letting the dough rise to about 1 inch above the pan (I didn't have time for this the last time around and my bread turned out fine, just a bit denser).


Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place the 13x9 in the oven to bake for 45-55 minutes. *Because the loaves are baking next to each other, you'll need to take them out of the pan and let them finish baking on a baking sheet or the inside half of each loaf won't crisp up - bake this way for another 10-15 minutes (if the loaves threaten to burn, cover with aluminum foil so the baking can continue without any additional browning).

Notice how the dough is not full cooked on this side...
...Versus the outside edge
Once done, remove from heat, let cool, and serve!

This is a great side dish or appetizer, with the jalapeño's heat peeking out from the cheese mixture just enough to keep you on your toes.


- 6 1/2 c All Purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp white or brown sugar (I use white)
- 1 c lukewarm water
- 1 c and 2 tbsp lukewarm buttermilk or milk
- 1 1/2 tbsp instant yeast
- 1/4 c melted, unsalted butter or vegetable oil
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 5-6 large jalapeno peppers
- 1 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

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