This Sourdough Jalapeño Cheddar Bread marries pickled jalapeño peppers with sharp cheddar cheese for zing, and sourdough starter discard for tang. You'll have cheesy jalapeño bread goodness in every bite!
Why this recipe works
- Uses sourdough starter discard in a fun way
- Cheddar cheese and chopped jalapeño peppers add lots of flavor in the dough and on top
- Here's an easy way to create layers in bread
It's time to spice up your sourdough bread. Making basic bread requires just 4 ingredients...flour, water, yeast, and salt, and has a good, plain flavor.
And when you maintain a sourdough starter, the unfed starter can be substituted for some of the flour and water. That sourdough starter discard also adds its tangy flavor to the bread, although it's subtle. Adding herbs, like for focaccia or ciabatta rolls, is one way to add even more flavor. Another way is to add mix-ins. Enter Sourdough Jalapeño Cheddar Bread. Flavor amped to the max!
Plus, it's another way to use unfed sourdough starter. Score!
What you need
The ingredients for a cheesy jalapeño bread made with sourdough starter aren't all that exotic, but you want to pay attention to the types of jalapeño peppers and cheddar cheese you choose.
It's best to use a medium to sharp cheddar for this jalapeño cheddar bread recipe. Any milder, and you won't taste the cheese, while anything sharper won't melt as well.
I use pickled jalapeño pepper slices, rinsed and patted dry. The pickling softens the peppers, and adds a nice saltiness to the spiciness. If you prefer, just dice 2 to 3 fresh jalapeño peppers for the filling and slice 2 additional fresh jalapeño peppers for the topping.
How to make a layered filled bread
The difference between this jalapeño and cheddar bread recipe and a normal sourdough bread is the layering. It's even different than a rolled filled bread like a babka.
We're layering in filling more like a laminated dough, think puff pastry or croissants. We'll get to that process in a minute.
Step 1: Make the dough
This yeasted bread starts like any other dough, like ciabatta bread or english muffins. Stir together the bread flour, unfed sourdough starter, yeast, salt, and water into a soft, pliable dough (photo 1).
Step 2: Layer in the fillings
Here's when we turn a plain ol' sourdough bread recipe into a sourdough jalapeño cheese bread recipe.
The goal is to have an even distribution of the cheese and peppers throughout the bread, so layering makes sure you don't get clumps of cheese and peppers in the bread.
Pat out the dough into a rectangle, then sprinkle some of the cheddar cheese and diced jalapeño peppers across it. Bring the corners over the filling, then pat the dough out into a rectangle again and repeat the process until all the filling is used, about four more times (photo 2).
Step 3: Allow the dough to rise until doubled
Gently shape the dough into a large ball, being careful not to tear open the layers you've just created (photo 3).
This is a vigorous bread dough, and you'll see that in this first rise.
Here's another view of the rising dough...
Step 4: Shape the dough into rounds
Divide the dough in half. Now you can see all those lovely layers you created (photo 4).
Gently shape the dough halves into rounds, tucking in any loose filling. Cover and allow the dough to rise again (photo 5).
Step 5: Slash the dough before baking
The idea with slashing dough is to control how the dough will split while baking.
You can use a serrated knife, but a more professional tool is called a bread lame (photo 6). It's a stylized handle for a razor blade that creates a much sharper cut, allowing for cleaner, deeper slashes. It's also great for creating designs.
Step 6: Bake the bread rounds
Jalapeño and cheese bread rounds are baked in two stages so the toppings doesn't burn.
First bake at 425°F for 20 minutes, then sprinkle them with the extra cheddar cheese and jalapeño pepper slices and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes (photo 7).
You'll know the bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom and a digital thermometer measures at least 200°F.
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions that you might have...
It's best to grate your own cheese for this recipe. Bagged shredded cheese can have additives that will prevent it from melting, and you're after that ooey-gooey cheesy goodness here!
You can, yes. But just dumping in all the fillings at once and kneading them in can lead to a less even distribution. By layering in the fillings, you'll be less likely to have clumpy pockets of cheese and peppers in your bread.
Sure! After the first rise, shape the dough into a loaf by patting the dough out into a rectangle and rolling it into a log from the short end. Ease the dough into a standard loaf pan sprayed with baking spray, cover, and let rise. Bake as directed for the round.
Yes! Baking bread in a covered dutch oven eliminates the need for the water-filled pan and concentrates the steam, producing a nice crunchy crust. Keep the dough in one ball instead of making two loaves, and line your dutch oven with parchment paper to keep the dough from sticking to the pan. Bake for the first 30 minutes or so with the pan covered, then top with the jalapeño slices and cheddar cheese. Return the bread with the pan uncovered to the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the crusts are golden brown.
Pro Tip: Shape the bread your way
The method I show above to fold in the jalapeños and cheddar cheese is just one way to create layers, similar to folding chocolate chips into scones. You can also use the rolling method like making babka. Pat the dough into large rectangle, sprinkle on the mix ins, roll up the dough and split the log lengthwise. Twist the two pieces together, then shape it into a spiral before baking.
Speaking of shaping, you can make one large round instead of two small ones. Just increase the baking time to 30 minutes at 425°F and 15 to 20 minutes at 400°F.
Or make Sourdough Jalapeño Cheddar Sandwich Bread: After the first rise, shape the dough into a loaf by patting the dough out into a rectangle and rolling it into a log from the short end. Ease the dough into a standard loaf pan sprayed with baking spray, cover, and let rise. Bake as directed for the round.
So much flavor in one bread
This Sourdough Jalapeño Cheddar Bread is spicy with a soft interior. Fresh from the oven, the cheddar cheese is ooey-gooey and oh, so yummy.
Delicious warm with butter, this spicy, cheesy bread makes a great accompaniment to a bowl of chili or anything you want to add a little bit of zing to.
You'll love having this flavorful bread in your repertoire for using sourdough starter discard!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
When you maintain a sourdough starter, you have a dilemma. What do you do with your unfed sourdough starter discard? I've got lots of suggestions for sweet and savory ways to use your fed sourdough starter and the sourdough starter discard.
And if you sign up to receive my weekly featured recipe email, I'll send you the recipe for Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread. Just click the subscribe button below. Enjoy!
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Sourdough Jalapeño Cheddar Cheese Bread
For the bread
- 3 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 cup sourdough starter discard, unfed, at room temperature, see Recipe Notes
- 2½ teaspoon instant yeast, rapid rise, see Recipe Notes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ to ¾ cup water, warmed to 100 to 110°F
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, sharp, shredded
- ½ cup pickled jalapeño peppers slices, rinsed and patted dry, diced, see Recipe Notes
For the topping
- ¼ cup cheddar cheese, sharp, shredded
- 6 to 12 pickled jalapeño peppers slices, rinsed and patted dry, see Recipe Notes
- In the bowl of a large stand mixer filled with the dough hook, combine the flour, starter, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add a ½ cup water (113 grams) to the mixture and mix on low just until you get a soft dough. If needed, add additional water in 1 tablespoon increments to get the right dough consistency. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and flatten into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Sprinkle a small amount of cheese and diced pickled jalapeños evenly across the dough, then gently fold the edges up and over the filling (see the picture below). Flatten the dough again and repeat the process four more times until all the cheese and diced pickled jalapeños have been layered into the dough.
- Gently shape the dough into a large ball, being careful not to tear open the layers you've just created. Place the dough into a bowl that’s been lightly sprayed with canola oil spray and cover with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and let rise for 60 to 90 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Return the dough to the floured surface, divide in half, and gently shape into two small rounds. Place the rounds on a half sheet baking pan lined with a Silpat silicone mat or parchment paper and cover them with a greased piece of plastic wrap. Let the rounds rise for 30 to 60 minutes in a warm corner of the kitchen.
- While the rounds are rising, preheat the oven to 425 °F and place a pan of water on the bottom rack.
- Using a bread lame, slash the top of the rounds with two perpendicular slices about 1-inch deep to form an X shape. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and top the rounds with the ¼ cup shredded cheddar and pickled jalapeño slices.
- Reduce the heat to 400 °F and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crusts are golden brown and a digital thermometer reads 200 °F at the bottom of the loaves.
- Transfer the rounds to cool on a wire rack. Slice and enjoy!
- Store the bread in an airtight container on the counter for up to three days. It freezes well wrapped in plastic wrap and sealed in an airtight bag for a month or more.
It sounds delicious but I have a quick question if we’re using the fed starter —active and bubbly—And no commercial yeast— which I have been trying to do and most of my recipes—Wouldn’t we increase to 2 cups of starter?
Tammy Spencer says
Hi Heidi, that’s a good question. I haven’t tried this myself, but according to the website True Sourdough, 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast is about the equivalent of 100 grams of active starter. So you’d replace the yeast in this recipe with 1/2 cup (114 grams) of active, fed starter. You’d then reduce the amount of flour by about 1/2 cup (57 grams) and water by about 1/4 cup (57 grams) in order to keep the proper bread recipe ratio of 5:3 flour to water. (Note, there are some rounding inconsistencies here due to the volume vs. weight measurement conversion.) The rising time will also be longer (about double) for both the first and second rises.
If you do try this, please let me know how it goes for you. Happy baking! 😉