Week 2 of Bread: Cheddar Pepper
There’s no two ways around it… I’ve got writer’s block today. For the past two hours I’ve been blankly staring at my computer screen, occasionally flipping around a couple other blogs, trying to come up with some inspiration. Really, just a smidgen of the stuff would do. But I’ve got nothin’. Not even a pinch or a dash. I guess it was bound to happen during this feverish bread affair.
But don’t worry; I do have a lovely little recipe to share. I’d never leave you unnourished in that sense and certainly not smack in the middle of our second week of bread baking together. Today’s recipe is actually one I’ve been contemplating for awhile and rather unique in that I couldn’t find a recipe written to my required specs so I made it up as I went along, very loosely referring to a basic recipe for plain white rolls in my copy of The Big Book of Bread.
Very late in the summer last year, I was “gifted” with a big bag of leftover Lipstick Red Peppers at the end of our day at the Headhouse Market. Really, if recollection serves me right, it felt more like I was being forced to take them home, seeing as how no one else wanted them. I know that sounds absurd to anyone who doesn’t have their own vegetable plot. But for those of us who have such a good fortune, all that bounty of summer (bushels of tomatoes, eggplant, okra, squash and peppers) can eventually wear thin. By late September, we farmers (and many of our customers too, I think) had grown disinterested in those gorgeous Lipstick peppers. Saying that now, in February, I think we must have been absolutely insane! In any case, I ended up with a bunch of peppers I didn’t want to eat in September so I dried them to have for just such a moment as now in the midst of winter when I’ve returned to my senses and want that sweet pepper flavor.
Only trouble with the dried peppers was that, at the time, I really didn’t know how I was going to use them. I have since used them in baked corn. But previous suggestions of bread or maybe pasta dough sounded like good possibilities too. Of course once I hatched the concept of having an SFTF Week(s) of Bread event, I knew I’d need to find a recipe to use the peppers. The only “pepper” bread recipes to come up in my searches were ones using ground black or cayenne pepper, which really wasn’t of much use, save for several of them had cheese included and that made me think how tasty a contrast it would be to have a sharp aged cheese in the same dough as the concentrated sweetness of the dried peppers.
In the end, I decided I was in the mood for rolls for a change, what with so many loaves piling up on my kitchen table, and adapted a basic white crusty roll recipe to give my dried peppers their first shot at doughy stardom. Are the rolls good? Yes! Do I need to continue experimenting to get just the right combination of flavors? Yes. This time around, the cheese stole the spotlight, making the peppers mere supporting cast members. A very good first attempt though and if you don’t have a baggie full of dried sweet peppers, these rolls with just the cheese would still pack powerful flavor.
Huh! Would you look at that?!! I didn’t have writer’s block after all!
Crusty Cheddar & Dried Pepper Rolls
Loosely adapted from The Big Book of Bread
2 1/2 c. white bread flour
1 t. salt
1/2 t. superfine sugar
1 t. easy-blend dried yeast
1 T. cold butter, diced
1/4 c. chopped oven-dried peppers
1 c. warm water
1/4 c. extra sharp cheddar, diced small
lightly salted water
Place the chopped (I actually cut mine with kitchen sheers) dried peppers in hot water to reconstitute while you mix the dough. Stir the flour, salt, sugar and yeast together in a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your hands. Drain the peppers and pat dry before adding to the flour mixture.
Make a well in the center of the flour and begin adding the warm water. Stir and add enough water to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured countertop and knead for five minutes or so until smooth and elastic. Place in the cleaned bowl and cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
Punch down the risen dough on a floured countertop. Using your hands, spread out the dough into a rough rectangle. Place half the cheese cubes in the center of the rectangle. Fold one side of the dough over the cheese (like folding a piece of paper in thirds). Place the other half of the cheese cubes on top of the folded dough and pull the other third of dough up on top of it. Begin kneading the dough to work in the cheese as evenly as possible.
Using a dough cutter or your thumb and forefinger, divide dough into 12 even pieces. Roll each into a ball and then press down lightly with the palm of your hand. Place rolls on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or sprayed with non-stick spray. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Brush the tops of the rolls with the salted water. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until rolls are golden, crusty and sound hollow when tapped. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. serve warm or at room temperature.