Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bacon, Cheddar and Jalapeno Bread

Breakfast time is usually a blur with a quick bowl of cereal or some frozen waffles.  Who has time for anything more when you're running out the door?  Dinner is the complete opposite.  Usually dinner is something that I have planned well in advance and have made sure that there is something in the meal that everyone will be happy with.  It's thoughtful, relaxing and family-time.

But lunch?  Lunch is all mine.  I'm the only only to please.  And since no one else has to like what I have for lunch I get to fill it up with all those things that no one else in my house will eat.  I make things like soups and pizzas with ingredients like butternut squash, zucchini, carrots or goat cheese.  I experiment and make new things.  I love lunch at my house.
The other day I had one of those lunches.  It started because I wanted something other than the chicken salad that I had made the day before.  So I decided to raid the fridge to see what sort of treasures I could unearth.  And then I struck gold.  A forgotten jar of pickled hot peppers way in the back reminded me of a recipe idea I had.  I had made the pickled peppers (does that make me like Peter Piper?) back at the end of summer when I had way too many peppers to use and couldn't stomach the idea of making yet another salsa.  But I always forget to take them out when I'm making tacos or fajitas, which is exactly what they were intended for.  It's a shame that they've been neglected because they're really very good.

I scooped up my forgotten jar of peppers and put them to work.  A few ingredients and some baking time later and my bacon, cheddar and jalapeno bread was born.  It was the perfect lunch just for me.  I'm so glad I found that jar...
Bacon, Cheddar and Jalapeno Bread
I love the inspiration for this bread.  A friend posted on Facebook about a bread she had ordered from a chain pizza joint that she couldn't stop eating.  I immediately thought that it sounded like a great combination and that I could certainly make it in my kitchen.  So when I finally made my version, I gave half to her to try. I'm happy to report that she loved it as much as the original!

For the dough (though you can definitely make it with store-bought pizza dough):
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) instant yeast
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup warm water

1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese plus 2 tbs
4 slices bacon, browned and chopped into small pieces
2 tbs jarred pickled jalapenos (or 1 large fresh jalapeno, serrano chile or fresno chile), finely chopped
2 tbs shredded parmesean cheese

Make the dough by combining the flour, salt, yeast, water and oil in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Using the dough hook attachment, mix the ingredients together until you have a ball of dough that comes together.  Alternately, you can mix the dough with a wooden spoon in a large bowl.  When a soft ball of dough forms, transfer it to a lightly floured work surface and knead it for about 5 minutes.  You want a soft, smooth, but not sticky dough.  Add additional flour as necessary.  Put the dough in a large bowl that has been drizzled with olive oil.  Turn the dough to coat it with oil.  Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and place to bowl ina warm area.  Let the dough rise until it has doubled in volume, about an hour.

When the dough is ready, turn the oven on to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the bowl and cut it into two equal pieces.  Set one piece aside.  Shape the other piece into a rectangle as best you can and then roll it out into a thin sheet so that it remains rectangular.  You want it to be about 3 inches wide.  Sprinkle half of the 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese down the center of the dough, leaving the edges uncovered.  Sprinkle half of the bacon and peppers over the cheese.  Bring the sides up over the filling and pinch the seam together tightly so that you form a long log with the filling encased inside.  Turn the log seam side down.  Repeat the rolling and filling procedure with the other half of the dough.

Make the dough twist by crossing one end of the first dough log over one end of the other.  Cross the second log over the first and continue in this manner alternating until you reach the ends of the two logs.  Tucks the ends under and transfer the twist to the cookie sheet.  Cut 1 inch slashes into the dough in several places.  Sprinkle with the remaining two tablespoons of cheddar cheese and the parmesean.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.  Let it cool before slicing.

Serve the slices of bread with salsa for dipping.

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