Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Smoked Cheddar Chili Bread

The wonderful folks over at Marx Foods kindly sent me some Dried Puya Chilies for our Marx Foods challenge. I opened the bag and inhaled their aroma. Fruity and spicy and such a pretty color--a deep crimson red. What to make? Then it came to me. That’s it, of course! Bread! I love to bake bread. I’ve been baking a lot of breads with cheese of late, and chilies and cheese go so well together, it seemed to be the way to go.

The aroma of this bread is incredible. I brought a freshly baked loaf into work and was practically dancing as I said, “You’ve got to smell this bread!” 

Smoked Cheddar Chili Bread
by Diana Horst

2 dried Marx Foods Dried Puya Chilies, about 1/8 ounce or 1 teaspoon once they’re ground

2 cloves blanched garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 ½ cups water, divided
1 1/2 Tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 cups bread flour
½ cup corn meal
1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

Lightly toast the chilies in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until they start to puff slightly. Remove from the heat and cool. Place the chilies in a coffee mill or spice mill and grind to a coarse powder. In a small bowl, mix the chilies with garlic, oregano and ¼ cup of hot water. Let stand for 10 minutes. 

Place 2 ¼ cups of cool water in the stand mixer bowl. Add the honey and yeast and mix together with a paddle attachment. Add the flour, cornmeal, salt and chili mixture. Mix on low speed for 3-4 minutes. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes and then add the olive oil and grated cheeses and mix for 5 minutes on medium speed. Scoop out the dough and place in an oiled 9” x 13” plastic container. I like to use the rectangular container because it makes the next step easier, but you can use a bowl. Cover it tightly. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. 

Now we’re going to do the first of three “stretch and folds.” I think our very own Donna Currie explains it quite well over on Serious Eats.

You can also watch a video on YouTube of Peter Rheinhart demonstrating the technique (see the bottom of this post).

Wait for 15 minutes after the first stretch and fold and then do it again. Repeat. After the third stretch and fold, cover the container tightly and place in the fridge overnight. 

The next day, pre-heat the oven to 475 degrees with a baking stone on the middle rack if you have a stone. Don’t worry about it if you don’t, the bread will still be wonderful baked on a sheet pan.

Remove the dough from the fridge and let it warm up at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Divide the dough in half on a lightly floured surface. Shape into oval logs and place on a peel or a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal, or place the logs in an oiled baguette pan. Slash tops of the loaves diagonally three times with a sharp knife. Cover the loaves with a clean tea towel or paper towels. Let them rise for 30 minutes.

Slide the loaves onto the stone or place the baking sheet in the oven. After 5 minutes, turn the oven down to 400 degrees. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when you thump them. Cool. 

This bread is excellent for sandwiches, toast or just for snacking on. My co-workers liked it with a bit of veggie cream cheese.

You can check out the chilies here!

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