25 July 2011

Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Bread

This bread instantly became the new staff favorite.  I combined spicy jalapeño peppers, sharp cheddar cheese and whole grain corn meal to make this lovely loaf.  The inspiration came from a traditional Portugese Broa which is a yeasted corn bread.  I've always enjoyed the levity the yeast brings to the texture of the cornbread.  It also lacks the overt sweetness most northeastern cornbread's bear.

The process begins with a polenta-like mixture of boiling water and corn meal.  This sits overnight so the corn can absorb the water and the mixture can cool to room temperature.  I also made a biga eight hours before mixing the final dough.

I tested a variety of different jalapeños: frozen, small diced, sliced, with seeds, without seeds...  I decided I liked the flavor of the fresh, whole peppers while I required the spicy kick obtained by using the seeds and ribs from the pepper's interior.

I cut the peppers in half lengthwise before slicing them into semi-circles.  When I mixed the dough, I combined the flour, biga, soaked cornmeal and water first.  I delayed the yeast addition by 5 minutes and I added the salt 5 minutes after the yeast.  After the dough reached it's full development, I slowly added the shredded sharp cheddar and the sliced jalapeños until they were evenly distributed through the dough.

I rolled the dough into squares, folded the corners into the center and proofed upside down on a bed of cornmeal.  After a couple hours at room temperature, it was ready to flip over and bake in the deck oven.

The interior is soft and flavorful.  This bread is the perfect compliment to chili but being as though it's 100°F outside and I refuse to make chili...I used it for my pulled pork sandwich and it was great.  It also makes a yummy fried egg sandwich in the morning.  Best of all, each serving contains 8 grams of whole grains because of the whole grain corn meal in the dough.  Good for you and tasty - - sounds like a winner to me!

I am submitting this post to Susan from The Wild Yeast Blog for her weekly YeastSpotting segment.  If you would like to know more about my recipe, please email me.