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A wonderful reader from Maine recently sent me this inquiry:
Made the crusty bread in a dutch oven twice this weekend. Amazing! What variations do you have on the recipe now that I’ve got the basics down?
My answer was Cranberry Orange, garlic & rosemary, or this………………….
Jalapeño Cheddar!!! Yes, yes, absolutely yes.
Take the basic Dutch Oven Crusty Bread recipe and add 1 cup finely cubed cheddar cheese and 1 large jalapeño, chopped.
Then, in the final 10-15 minutes of baking, when you remove the lid from the Dutch oven, sprinkle on some grated cheddar and thinly sliced jalapeño.
I can’t even deal with the level of melty spicy amazingness when the hot, steamy loaf emerges from the oven. Truth be told, I was chewing on copious mouthfuls of this hot bread while I was taking these photos. And I’m totally not sorry. Nope. Worth it.
Jalapeño Cheddar Dutch Oven Crusty Bread
A rustic Jalapeño Cheddar artisan loaf baked in a Dutch oven.
Yields: 1 loaf
- For the Dough:
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, finely cubed
- 1 large jalapeño, chopped
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- To add in the last 10-15 minutes of baking:
- 3 tablespoons cheddar cheese, grated
- 6 thin slices of jalapeño
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Fold in the cheese and jalapeño until well coated. Add the water and stir until a shaggy mixture forms (mixture will be loose and sticky; this is what you want). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 - 18 hours (up to 24). Overnight works great.
Preheat oven to 450. Place a cast iron dutch oven with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, transfer the risen dough onto a heavily floured surface (mixture will be sticky; do not knead) and lightly, gently shape into a round loaf.
Remove the hot pot from the oven, remove the lid, and carefully set the dough inside. Cover the Dutch oven and return it to oven for 30 minutes. Then, remove the lid, sprinkle the top of the loaf with grated cheddar and jalapeño slices, and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until golden and crisp. Carefully remove the pot from the oven and place the loaf on a cooling rack to cool. Best enjoyed warm, fresh from the oven.