Today is a soup cooking kinda day here in Mid-MO. So I have raided the fridge and pantry and prepared a pretty delish veggie soup. I had some frozen vegetable stock in the freezer, that certainly made my life easier today.
My niece spends the afternoons with us after she gets out of kindergarten, they only go a half day. Today is the day after her birthday and she and E both have a bit of a sugar hang-over. I promptly fed them lunch and put them to bed. I can't think of anything better to cure that day after feeling than a warm bowl of vegetable soup on a cold, windy day. Oh, except maybe some fresh bread straight out of the oven. Yum.
This recipe originally called for jalapeno peppers, but in the interest of making it a little more kid friendly today....I used zavory. This is a pepper I had never seen until I spotted it at the Farmer's market. The vendor insisted I try one right then and there. It was amazing. What a wonderful sales tactic, I bought up the whole lot and went back for more the next week. You can just eat it right off the stem, it has a wonderful flavor but no heat. It is perfection in this bread, if you want to ease up on the spice a bit. I usually make two loaves of this bread, one for the grown-ups and one for the kiddos....just be sure you know which is which! It disappears so fast in this house, no need to worry about spoilage. I have also substituted other cheeses, such as asiago. Play with it!
Cheese and Pepper Bread
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon warm water (105-115 degrees)
4 cups flour plus additional for dusting (I have used all-purpose, bread, and wheat flour. all work well)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil
5 tablespoons chopped fresh pepper (if using a mild pepper, including seeds and ribs. if using a jalapeno I do 3 tbsp. with seeds and ribs and 2 tbsp. without)
5 ounces coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp.)
3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 large egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
Stir together yeast and 1 tablespoon warm water in a small bowl; let mixture stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (if it doesn't foam, start over)
Mix together flour, salt, oil, yeast mixture, and remaining 1 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat at low speed until a soft dough forms, increase speed to medium-high and beat 3 minutes more. Add pepper, 1 1/2 cups Cheddar, and 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix until combined.
Scrape dough down side of bowl into center, then sprinkle lightly with flower. Cover bowl with a clean towel to keep a crust from forming and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface (dough will be sticky!) and gently form into a roughly 11-by 8-inch rectangle with floured hands.
Fold dough in thirds (like a letter) with floured hands, pressing along seam of each fold to seal.
Put dough, seam side down in an oiled 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. Cover pan with same clean kitchen towel and let dough rise a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough completely fills pan and rises above it slightly, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400.
Brush loaf with egg, then sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons Cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano down center of loaf.
Bake until bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, 50 minutes to 1 hours. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen loaf, then remove from pant to test for doneness.
Return bread (not in pan) to oven and turn on its side, then bake 10 minutes more to crisp crust. Cool completely on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.