Today we are going to take our super simple no knead white bread recipe as a base recipe and start playing with it to change the flavor and make it a little more special!
You can find my last blog here – about a simple recipe and method to bake the most delicious and easy bread out there. It’s pretty much foolproof and a great bread to start with if you are just beginning to bake bread.
Once you have tried that once or twice, you might as well start having fun with it! So today, we will make the same bread, but add cheddar cheese and jalapenos to the dough. Because why wouldn’t you, right?
I will spare you my long winded explanations about the bread cloche I will be using here today, but if this is new to you, then please refer to the above link to my last post for more of an explanation. If you do not have a cloche, no worries, just use a dutch oven or corningware dish. Also, whether it is a round dish or oblong like this cloche, it all turns out the same!
3 cups all purpose flour
1 ¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 ½ cups water – at room temperature
¾ cup chopped jalapenos (I used the jarred kind here)
1 ½ cups cubed medium cheddar cheese
In a big bowl, mix the flour, salt and yeast together. Pour water into the bowl and using a spatula or a wooden spoon mix it until well incorporated. Gently fold in the cheddar cheese cubes and jalapenos. (Reserve 1/4 of the cheddar for the next day at baking time to top the loaf with.)
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on your counter for 12 to 18 hours.
Preheat oven to 450 F degrees. Add your cast iron pot/similar to the oven as it’s heating and heat it as well until it’s at 450 F degrees. If using a bread cloche, just put the lid in the oven to heat up.
Remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid from it. If you want to make sure your bread doesn’t stick to the pot you can sprinkle some flour or cornmeal on the bottom of the pot. (Note – You can also spray with olive oil cooking spray!) If using a cloche, line it with parchment paper.
Flour your hands really well and also sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough. With your floured hands gently remove the dough from the bowl and roughly shape it into a ball for a round baking dish, or an oblong shape for a long bake dish. Take the ball of dough and drop it into the pot. Use the remaining cubed cheddar to dot the top of the loaf with. Cover the pot with the lid and place it back in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, after which remove the lid and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
If using a bread cloche, bake for 50-55 minutes with the lid on the entire time. Do not remove it.
Remove the bread from the pot, it should fall out easily. Let cool completely before slicing into it and serving.
Here’s how it turns out:
Get out a large mixing bowl and add in your flour, salt and yeast.
Cut up cheese into small cubes.
Reserve about 1/4 of the cubes for the next day when we go to bake this. I like dotting the top of the loaf with the cheese for a nice golden cheesey crust. Trust me on this one!
And then chop up jalapenos to the size you like them. I keep mine fairly whole/large because I like the heat from a whole jalapeno at once. But if you don’t, then dice them finely so it’s more evenly spread through the bread.
Then pour in your water and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Your dough will look and feel very wet and sticky. It should. You don’t want it dry. If it is wet looking and sticking to everything, you’ve done it right.
Now gently fold in the jalapenos and cubed cheese.
Cover this with plastic wrap and leave it on your counter for 12-18 hours. You’ll want to think ahead about that before you start. I usually mix this up mid afternoon for a morning bake the next day. And that’s it for the dough! So easy right? (Just a note here – some of you may be cringing right now at the fact that I’m leaving this dough out on the counter for 18 hours with a dairy product in it for a fermenting process. I get it. I will assure you however that it’s ok. If you are really into “food safe methods” this may not be for you. I just think that as a society we are a bit too worked up about this sort of thing. We leave our unwashed, fresh eggs on the counter for example. I think we have been scared into thinking we need to put everything in the fridge. So, that’s just me. I have a very laid back approach to things like this. You have to make your own choices for what’s best for you and your family 🙂 )
Then next day…..your dough will have gotten nice and active overnight and will sometimes triple in size. This is why you want a large mixing bowl to start with. It should look puffy and bubbly and still look very wet and sticky. Perfect!
Get your oven preheated to 450 degrees. Get out your dutch oven or you can also use one of these – a standard corningware dish. This is what I used for a long time and it worked great.
I am going to use what I always use, which is my bread cloche. I will link to an older post I wrote about what this cloche does here if you would like more information. I love it and I will never use anything else now that I have tried it! I only heat the lid up in the oven with the cloche.
I then line it with parchment paper every time. The dough will stick otherwise and this cloche isn’t something you wash or clean like a normal bake dish.
Then flour your hands and do your best to get that dough out of the bowl without handling it too much. We want to keep all the lightness and bubbles in there as much as possible. My method is to use both floured hands and sort of scoop the dough on both sides of the bowl, go all the way down and get your hands right around and under the bottom to get the whole thing in the middle of both of your hands. Quickly lift it out, roughly shape it and put it directly into your baking dish. Mine is the oblong cloche so I just sort of pulled it long and dropped it in. I don’t do much to make it pretty. It will do it’s own thing while baking.
Then, I like to stick a few cubes of cheddar on the top of the loaf. You don’t need to do this, as there’s enough cheese in there already, but I really love the crusty golden baked cheese look on top of these loaves. It gives it a bit of an extra savory crunch and texture to the already crispy crust that will form around it.
Then put the lid back on your baking dish and pop er’ in the oven. If you are using a corningware dish or dutch oven, follow the instructions above. I’m using my cloche, so I will bake it for 55 minutes without taking the lid off.
55 minutes later, I pulled it out of the oven and oh me, oh my. Hello luh-vah. I can’t even begin to describe the glorious smell that wafts out of your oven, through your house from this beauty. But it’s mouthwatering.
But now I’m going to keep it real here, and admit something I should just leave alone, but I can’t help it. As I turned out my loaf to my cooling rack my oven mitt didn’t quite have the bottom of the cloche held as securely as I would have liked (she’s heavy) and the bread dumped out (thankfully just on the counter) because I was more concerned about the cloche and not dropping it. The beautiful round top that puffed up so nicely while baking was crushed flat and now I had a very boxy looking loaf. Oh well. This is part of my daily life. I’m extremely fast and efficient in my kitchen, but this also makes me prone to small accidents, like daily. Ask my husband. I’m an incredible source of amusement for him on the regular.
So now you’ll have to look at flat loaf pictures.
These would have looked so much prettier with a rounded top. Ha! You forgive me right? But if you look past my clumsiness, you can see the yummy cheese and pieces of jalapenos spread through the loaf.
Many times when you buy these sorts of specialty breads from bakeries, they never have enough of ‘the good stuff’. This way you can put as little or as much as you like in it. I need at least a few jalapenos in every slice I cut. Otherwise what’s the point?
Then, like any rustic/artisan bread, a good idea is to cut it in half and freeze one piece. You only have about 2 days on your counter to have this fresh and soft. Wrap it well in plastic wrap and put it in a freezer bag and freeze it. For the half you are going to eat, don’t ever wrap it in plastic or put it in the fridge! The crust on this bread is what protects it and keeps the inside moist. Trust that.
All you need to do is leave it on your counter, cut side down. It will stay soft and fresh for 2 days at least. If you notice after that it’s getting a bit dry, it makes perfect toast too! But I doubt it will last past day 2 anyway. It’s that good.
We will keep exploring different additions to this simple rustic white bread recipe next week. Because the only thing better than freshly baked bread, is all different types of freshly baked bread.
What is your favorite flavor combination in a bread? I love new ideas!
– The Homesteaders Wife