In the past year, I've crossed two things off my cooking "to-do" list. I've finally tackled baking with yeast, and I've finally figured out what the heck to do with dried chiles. Yeast always scared me. For some reason, I couldn't figure it out. I was afraid my bread wouldn't rise, it would taste "too yeasty". I never realized how easy it could be. This little trend of "pull-apart" bread, proves it.
Dried chilies, they're a whole other ballgame. I love "heat" in pretty much anything I eat. In general, the spicier the better. I knew dried chilies were a great way to bring this to any dish. These puya chilies bring so much more than a little spice, however. They bring a wonderful depth to this bread. They're not crazy spicy. You can pick your chili, according to your own tastes. I finally tackled them when I made my own chorizo not too long back.
I stumbled upon Marx Foods because of my interest in dried chilies. I heard they were putting together a little blogger contest where they'd send along some samples of their best dried chilies and see what we could do with them. Marx Foods is one of those spots where if you're looking for a specific gourmet ingredient, amazing artisan foods, and great cooking ideas, well, they have it. I honestly never realized there were so many types were available. I received several varieties, from the hot Habenero, to the more chocolatey Mulato chilies. I ended up going with the Puyas, because they carry just enough heat, without being overwhelming. They also have a touch of a fruity taste, perfect to pair with cheddar for this bread.
Ah, this bread. I've seen pull-apart breads all across the blogosphere as of late. They're filled with fruit, cinnamon, but it was a savory variety from one of my favorite Boston-area blogs, A Cambridge Story. That version is filled with sun dried tomatoes and basil, but I knew this was the perfect base for my pepper adventures. This bread falls apart, is amazing right out of the oven, and has just enough of a spark of heat, without it overwhelming this bread.
Chile Cheddar Pull Apart Bread
Yield: One loaf
Inspired and adapted from: A Cambridge Story
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (343.75 grams)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup lowfat milk
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 4-5 large dried Puya (or really any other) chilies
- olive oil for drizzling
- 3/4 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar (I used Cabot's Extra-Sharp)
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine 2 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Set that aside.
- In a small saucepan, combine milk and butter over low heat until the butter is just melted. Remove it from the heat, add your water, and cool the mixture until it's about 120 degrees.
- Pour the milk and butter mixture over the dry ingredients.
- Add your eggs one at a time, until they're well mixed.
- Add in your half a cup of remaining flour, mix until smooth and then add the rest two tablespoons at a time.
- Mix using the paddle attachment on your mixer until everything is just combined.
- Switch to the dough hook to knead for a couple of minutes until the dough is smooth, but sticky.
- Put your dough into a large bowl, greased with a little bit of oil, cover with plastic wrap, and a kitchen towel.
- Place your dough in a warm, draft-free, spot to rise for an hour.
- While the dough is rising, prepare your filling by first re hydrating your chiles.
- Place the re hydrated chiles in a small food processor, add a little bit of water and process into a slightly liquid form (you should still have pieces of the chili intact). Set aside.
- After your dough has risen for an hour (or doubled in size), punch it down to deflate it, and then place in the fridge for an hour or over night.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside.
- Now, lightly flour a flat service, shape the dough into a roughly 1x2 foot rectangle.
- Drizzle the dough with a bit of olive oil
- Brush on the chili pepper mixture with a kitchen brush.
- Sprinkle cheese over the top of the chile mixture.
- Cut vertically to make 6 even strips of dough.
- Now stack those strips on top of each other and slice a second time, into 6, even stacks.
- Place those stacks side-by-side in the greased pan, and allow to rise for another 45 minutes.
- Finally, put that dough into the oven and bake on the center rack for 30 minutes.
- Take out of the oven, allow to rest for 5 minutes, and then pull apart for bread goodness!
Speaking of contests, if you entered the Lindsay Olive giveaway, I'll be announcing that winner on Monday!! Stay tuned!