You’ve got to try this – Chili Cheese Bread
We’ve had such an incredibly hot spring and summer that it’s been many, many months since I last made a loaf of bread. There must be a touch of fall in the air because I baked bread on Sunday and didn’t freak out about the oven making the house hot.
My first loaves of the cool season were Chili Cheese Bread. I’ve had this basic bread recipe in my head for years that was inspired by an Emeril Lagasse French bread recipe. If you get the bread baking bug too, here’s a great one to try. It’s especially great because of the abundance of fresh roasted chilies available right now.
2 Cups hot water
5 tsp. sugar
1.5 Tbsp. dry yeast
Add the water to your mixing bowl. Toss in the sugar. Carefully scatter the yeast onto the water trying to get as many particles wet as possible, but don’t stir. Let this sit 10-15 minutes until the yeast becomes foamy.
1.5 Tbsp. salt (I like Kosher the best, sea salt and regular salt work well too)
2 Cups bread flour
Load the mixing bowl into your mixer, attach the bread hook and turn it on low. Let it mix this initial bit of flour until it’s well
incorporated and smooth. Add one more cup of flour and let mix until smooth again. Here is where I start adding smaller amounts of flour.
The original recipe calls for a full five cups, but I learned early on to not add the full amount of flour. I go with the look and feel of the dough. So, after those first three cups I had a half cup more flour and let that mix in thoroughly. The dough should be forming a single mass and start pulling away from the sides of the bowl and bunching up on the hook, but is probably still a bit sticky.
I add a quarter cup more flour and usually this is it. This last bit makes the dough clean completely from the sides and just be on the hook. Sometimes I end up adding the final quarter cup of flower for a total of four cups of flour.
Once the dough is smooth and all on the dough hook, I turn up the speed a couple notches and let it knead for a few minutes. If it’s too sticky and loose you can add a bit more flour. You want a nice solid mass of dough that isn’t too sticky or too firm either.
Take a different bowl and put a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the bottom. Spread the oil around the bottom of the bowl and up the sides. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and put it in the oiled bowl. Turn the dough around in the oil to coat all sides. Let sit for an hour or two until it doubles in size.
Once the dough has doubled punch it down and divide it in two. Have ready chopped green chilies and cut up chunks of cheddar cheese. I generally use 1-2 cups of chili and a cup or so of cheese divided between the loaves.
Take one half of the dough and flatten it on a lightly floured surface with your hands to about a half inch thickness or a little less. Spread half of your green chili and cheese over the dough then start with one edge and roll the dough like you would a jelly roll. Make sure to fold in the ends so you don’t lose any of the good stuff inside. Lay out the loaf seam side down on your baking pan and repeat with the second half of dough.
Take a knife and make three or four slits along the top of each loaf. Mix one egg with one tablespoon of water and use this egg wash and a pastry brush to coat the loaves. Let the loaves sit and rise for a half hour to an hour so they get close to double in size.
Heat your oven to 400 and fill a small glass bowl halfway with water. Put your baking pan with the loaves in your oven and place the bowl with water on it. The water adds moisture to your oven as the loaves cook. I also use a spray bottle and spray the inside of the oven at the beginning and a couple times throughout cooking. Let the loaves cook about 30-35 minutes until they are golden on the outside and cooked through.
When done, take the loaves out of the oven and place on cooling racks. It’ll be hard, but let the loaves cool for a few minutes before slicing. You want to let loaves set before slicing or you’ll smash them.
This bread is very popular in my house. It’s great for sandwiches, by itself with butter or cream cheese and it makes really great toast too. My kids even like it. You can use hot chilies or mild, whatever your preference, you’ll love how this bread turns out. Oh and once the bread has cooled I generally freeze one loaf while we work on the other. Freezing bread keeps it fresher than the fridge or letting it sit out. Plus you won’t have to hurry to eat it all.