Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Pickled Jalapeno and Cheddar Sourdough Bread

Hey sourdough bakers, it's time to contemplate Thanksgiving bakes. While most folks prep their turkey game and research the stuffing, I fluster about the bread. Breads to be precise -- with so many amazing options around, I am hopelessly incapacitated in settling on a single loaf. Hence, I always end up making at least four different ones.  In case you think it a bit excessive, here is the logic; I am pretty sure you’ll find it impossible to argue against. A) Everyone needs a simple loaf, so I bake a basic sourdough to start with. (We all have our basics, and mine is 50% white bread flour, 24% AP flour, 20% whole wheat flour, 6% rye flour, 20% fully hydrated starter, 2.2% salt, and about 82% H20.)  B) I also make this potato bread, because it’s kids favorite. C) Then comes the festive bread, a bread that puts a smile on my friends' faces and makes them scream with glee and clap their hands upon having the first bite. Festive = inclusions, a lot of them, and a lot of different ones -- just like Thanksgiving in a loaf. Last year I made this Roasted Apples, Sweet Onions, and Aged Cheddar Sourdough Bread hydrated with cider, and it was an absolute rock star of the evening. It totally deprived the bird of its holiday; by the time the turkey made it to the table, there was not a slice of bread left. I also threw in Dark Cherry, Raisin, and Walnut Sourdough, because it’s a beloved classic, and it’s how I want my Thanksgiving loaf to be.

So how about the 2022 repertoire?

I have not fully decided on the line-up as yet, but this Pickled Jalapeno and Cheddar loaf has the show-stopping potential. And an element of surprise too – another must-have trait for a successful holiday bread. Think a punch of sweet spiciness, just about right suggestion of acidity, and then a big hug of melted cheddar. As a bonus, all this goodness comes enveloped in magnificently crispy crust. Even my daughter who would not touch a spicy pepper if her life dependent on it, can't say no this one. You can buy the pre-made pickled jalapeno (I am currently obsessing over Trader Joes) or make your own (recipe below). Store-bough or home-made, I know you will get addicted to this loaf just like we did.

Baker’s Notes

choice of flour: I am using a mixture of strong white bread flour and “high extraction” type-85 (T85) flour. Whenever I add heavy inclusions I go with strong bread flour (King Arthur and Central Milling are my go tos), so that the loaf can carry the load and still get beautiful open crumb. I use T85 for flavor and elasticity (I love T70 and T85 flours and use them a lot). T85 is somewhere between whole wheat and white; it’s strong like white flour and very flavorful due to increased bran and germ content. If you do not have T85 handy, 70% white flour bread flour mixed with 30% whole wheat flour is a good replacement.

autolyse: I use lonegr autolyse to help increase the extensibility of the dough, which come handy when working with heavier inclusions. I also found that it works well with this combination of flours. You can shorten the autolyse, but try at least one hour. 

Total formula:

225 g (60%) King Arthur or Central Milling organic bread flour
128 g (34%) Central Milling organic Type 85 malted flour
 23 g (6%)  Central Milling organic dark rye flour
330 g (88%) water
 75 g (20%) levain at 100% hydration
  8 g (2%)  kosher salt
 60 g (16%) pickled jalapeno (drained and cut into 1/4 - 1/2 inch dice)
150 g (29%) cheddar (cut into 1/4 - 1/2 inch dice

Final hydration: 89.1%

Kitchen temperature: 77°F - 78°F

Dough temperature: 78°F

My location: New York City (low elevation)

Levain: 1 : 2 2/3 : 2 2/3 (15g starter, 35g bread flour, 5g rye flour, 40g water)

My baking schedule:

 8:00 am prepare levain
12:00 pm autolyse
 3.00 pm add levain
 3.30 pm add salt
 4:30 pm stretch and fold + 2 optional coil folds
 5:15 pm stretch and fold
 6:00 pm stretch and fold
 7:00 pm laminate and add jalapeno and cheddar
 9.00 pm shape and retard

-- next day –

12:30 pm bake

#1 Prepare levain (8.00 am)
Prepare the levain. Transfer to a clean glass container and cover loosely with a lid or plastic wrap. Wait until the levain has almost tripled in volume. For the given ratio of sourdough, flour, and water, it takes about 6 hours in my kitchen at 78°F.

#2 Autolyse (12.00 pm)

In a mixing bowl, combine the flours and water. Mix until no dry bits remain. Cover the bowl and leave for two to three hours.

#3 Add levain (3:00 pm)
Add the levain to the autolyse. Using your fingers, pinch in the levain first, then keep gently stretching and folding the dough over itself for about 5 minutes. From time to time the dough will begin to resist; when it happens pinch it again to relax it, and then continue mixing. This will help build strong dough from the beginning. Gather the dough into a ball, cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

#4 Add salt (3:30 pm)

Sprinkle the salt over the dough. Pinch in the salt, then apply gentle stretches and folds for about 5 minutes. If the dough resists, pinch it again, and then continue mixing. Gather the dough into a square packet and transfer to a bulk fermentation container. Cover and leave for about an hour.

#5 1st stretch and fold + 2 optional coil folds (4:30 pm)
Perform one set of stretch and folds. This dough should be very elastic, and it may allow you to work on it more. If you notice that the dough is not pushing back, perform one or more additional coil folds. Cover and leave for 45 minutes.

#6 2nd stretch and fold (5:15 pm)
Perform another stretch and fold. Cover and leave for 45 minutes.

#7 3rd stretch and fold (6:00 pm)
Perform another stretch and fold. Cover and leave for 45 minutes.

#8 Laminate and add jalapenos and cheddar (7:00 pm)
By now the dough should have developed a lot of strength and is ready to take in the inclusions. Lightly wet the work surface. With wet hands, release the dough from the bottom of the bulk container on all sides and place it onto the work surface. By pulling the dough from the middle and not the sides, stretch it into a large square as much as the dough allows you without tearing it. Reserve two handfuls of jalapeno and cheddar dice (about 20% of the total weight). Spread one third of the remaining jalapenos and cheddar over the middle third of the dough, fold over one side, apply the second third of inclusions on top of the folded area, fold over and apply the remaining inclusions. You will end up with a stripe of dough. Now spread half of the reserved mixture over the middle third of the stripe, fold over one side, apply the remaining inclusions on top of the folded area, and complete the fold, resulting in a neat square packet. This way of applying inclusions helps maintain even distribution of ingredients in the final loaf. Place the dough into the container, cover and leave until the end of the bulk.

#9 Shape and retard (9:00 pm)
Lightly flour the work surface and the top of the dough. With wet hands gently release the dough onto the work surface, so that the dusted top is now facing the surface. Shape the dough into a batard and place it into the banneton. Put the banneton into a plastic bag or cover it with plastic wrap, and transfer to the fridge. I keep my fridge at 35°F, to inhibit any further rise of the dough. The total bulk time for this bread is 6 hours at 78F.

#10 Bake (the next day, 12:30 pm)
One hour before baking, place your baking vessel in the oven (I use Emile Henry cloche) and preheat the oven to 500°F. When ready to bake, remove the banneton from the fridge. Lightly spray the bread with water – this helps develop nice crust and makes scoring easier. Wet the bread lame too, score the bread, and transfer it to the baking surface. Spray a little bit of water around the bread and cover. Bake for 15 minutes, covered. Reduce the temperature to 450°F and bake for another 15 minutes covered. Remove the lid, reduce oven temperature to 435°F and continue to bake for another 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing. 

Sweet Pickled Jalapeno

1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Turbinado sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large jalapeno peppers, sliced thinly (seeds removed if you prefer less spicy)

In a small pan, combine the vinegar, water sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the jalapeno slices. Remove from heat. Leave for about 10 minutes. Transfer the jalapenos to a jar and make sure that they are fully covered in liquid. Store in the fridge for up to three weeks.

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