As some of you maybe know I lived on the beautiful island of Aruba for a few years. It was that time that I developed a favor for spicy food, because in the Arubian cuisine or so called “cushina criollo” the most commonly used pepper is the madame Jeanette pepper. A spicy but really flavorful and fruity pepper.
Later I started barbecuing a lot, in that time I started exploring all kind of different peppers and also got to know the jalapeño pepper. The jalapeño pepper is originally from Mexico but is cultivated all around the globe these days, but I bet most of the food prepared with this pepper has a Mexican or Tex-Mex touch to it.
The Jalapeño is available in different colors, but most commonly used are the green and red variety. The green (unripe) pepper has a bright grassy flavor with even a slight bitterness to it, where the red one tastes sweeter but is hotter. The Jalapeño has pretty much the perfect amount of heat for those who like a little kick, but don’t want to put their tastebuds up to an extreme challenge.
Because the pepper is used this much in the Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine it is pretty often associated with cheddar cheese. The cheddar gives a perfect balance to the heat of the Jalapeño. I sometimes like to add some extra stuff to the dough to give it a little extra like fresh corn or cooked polenta, which takes this bread to a whole new level.
Ingredients for 2 small breads.
- 500 gram bread flour (you can even use a bit of cornflour for your dough)
- 300-325 gram water
- 100 gram strong starter
- 10 gram salt
- 2 green jalapeño peppers (more if desired)
- 125 gram cheddar cheese (freshly grated)
- 75-100 gram of cooked polenta
Actually this is a pretty easy bread to make its nothing more than a regular plain bread flour dough with inclusions.
Start off by mixing the flour starter and the water together (hold back about 25 gram to incorporate the salt later on). Let this sit for autolyse for 1 hour.
When the hour for autolyse has passed by its time to add the salt and the remaining water to your dough. Work the salt and water gently into your dough and give the dough a couple of good slap and folds, the dough has to develop a bit, I usually work the dough till it feels nice and elastic. (you don’t have to go to a full windowpane).
At this point you can put the Jalapeño, cheddar and if you want to the cooked polenta on top of the dough in your container and start the bulk fermentation. This dough will get a bulk fermentation for around 3-5 hours (depending on the dough and room temperature) including 3 sets of stretch and folds.
With every stretch and fold you will fold in the inclusions a bit more, be gentle with the dough when folding in the inclusions to not tear the dough. You don’t have to fold in all of it at once as there are 3 sets of stretch and folds coming and with all of the stretch and folds it will incorporate and spread through the dough better.
Stretch and folds are done in the first part of the bulk fermentation around 30 minutes apart. Be sure to cover the dough after each set of stretch and folds and after 3 sets set it aside for the remaining time of bulk fermentation.
When the dough has proofed enough it’s time to preshape. Turn the dough over on to a slightly floured work surface, divide in to two pieces and shape both of the pieces of dough into a boule by folding in both sides, rolling the dough towards you and turn it 90 degrees, at this moment you are holding an almost batard shaped piece of dough) again you will roll the dough towards you tightening the outside of the dough for strength.
Turn the dough over so it sits seem side down, and put your pinkies and thumbs around the base of the dough. Move your hands In a circulair motion putting pressure on the bottom of the ball and tucking the dough underneath. This should give you a nice ball of dough with a tight skin on top. Be sure to not over tighten it so the inclusions stay inside of the dough. Leave this to rest for around 15-30 minutes covered with a couche or linen cloth.
To shape the dough you can either repeat the steps of preshaping to obtain a boule shaped or you can just fold in the sides of the dough and roll it towards you applying a little more pressure to assure a nice strong skin on the dough for a batard.
If you like you can cover the dough with uncooked polenta to give it a nice corn crust. Put your dough into a banneton seamside up or on a couche and leave to fully proof if you want to do a same day bake or put it in the fridge after about 1 hour to bake it retarded.
For baking I always preheat my oven to 250C. When the oven is preheated, take your dough and gently turn the banneton up side down to let the dough fall out on a piece of baking paper. Score the dough on the topside and decorate with a bit more cheddar. Apply the steammethod of choice to the oven and put the dough in. Turn the oven down to 215C and bake for 30-35 minutes.