Cheesy Peach Jalapeño Bread

by Laicie

Mark has always been a better cook than me.  In fact, I’ll toot his horn for him a little (because I’m proud) and say that he’s a better cook than most.  The only place I’ve ever been able to up him just a little (there’s that competitive streak again…) is in baking.  So when Mark decided to start baking bread, well, I’m not gonna lie… I was a little scared.  He was encroaching on my territory and I just knew he was going to be good at it.

And I was right.  But, really, I can’t say it’s all that terrible to come home to the smell of warm baking bread… or to taste this delicious-ness fresh from the oven.

Nope… I really can’t say that’s terrible at all.

This weekend we made our way back down to Butler’s Orchard for an armload of the juiciest, most wonderful summer peaches known to man (from the market this time… we were lazy) plus a few handfuls of heirloom tomatoes and homegrown jalapeños… and I found myself extolling the fantastic-ness that is local food over and over so many times that I think poor Mark may never take me back.  But he baked up this little wonder with a few of those same peaches and jalapeños on top, and oh my… the only thing I will say about Mark’s fondness for baking bread is that it is not, in any way at all, good for my waistline.  We polished this little guy off in just a few hours… oops.

Nonetheless, maybe you’ll enjoy the recipe?  It’s pretty darn good.  Like a fat little peach jalapeño pizza bread… my mouth waters at the thought.

Cheesy Peach Jalapeño Bread
Adapted (liberally) from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

3 cups lukewarm water.
1 ½ tablespoons granulated yeast.
1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt.
1 ½ tablespoons sugar.
6 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour.
1 cup grated cheddar cheese.  (the better the cheese the better the result so don’t skimp)
1-2 peaches.
1 jalapeno.
1 ½ to 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Mix the yeast, salt and sugar with the water.

Mix in the dry ingredients and the cheese without kneading, using a spoon or stand mixer with dough hook.

Cover (not air tight) and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top). Approximately 2 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold.

Can be refrigerated up to 7 days.

On baking day:

Dust surface of the refrigerated dough and cut off a one pound piece (grapefruit size). Quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Allow to rest and rise on a pizza peel for 1 hour.

Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 475°F with the baking stone on the lowest rack. Place an empty broiler pan on any other rack that won’t interfere with the rising bread.

Right before putting in the oven, quickly shape the dough into a rectangle that is around ½” thick.  Place thin slices of peach (from one to two peaches depending on taste) on top of the dough.  Thinly slice one jalapeño and randomly place on top of the peaches (exclude seeds to reduce heat).  Drizzle 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons EVOO over the top of everything.

Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door.  Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to cool on a rack before slicing.