Be advised not to mistake this post as instructional. It is merely an account of my small adventure. I am a novice at baking bread, and although most of my attempts have been acceptably successful I still find the process a bit intimidating. I guess that’s why I don’t bake bread very often, and why I will probably always feel like a novice. Every now and then I give it another go as I did the other day when I got the urge to incorporate Serrano chiles into the bread.
I wasn’t sure how semi wet ingredients such as fresh peppers would affect the texture of the bread since they would presumably release moisture during the baking process. I didn’t want to end up with soggy or gummy bread. Out of caution I added only 3 deseeded and finely chopped Serranos, a few blades of finely chopped garlic chives and a a few chopped fresh rosemary leaves to 3 cups of white whole wheat flour, 2 cups of all purpose flour and a couple teaspoons of salt.
*It turned out I could have used three times as much peppers, chives and rosemary.
In a stand mixer bowl, pre-warmed with hot water, I added 1 packet of active dry yeast plus 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast from a jar to 2 cups of warm water in which 1 tablespoon of sugar had been dissolved.
When the yeast had foamed up after sitting for several minutes I mixed in with the dough hook a couple glugs of olive oil and about 2/3 of the flour and Serrano mixture.
After mixing for a few minutes I slowly added the rest of the flour mixture, increasing the speed as needed until the dough clung to the hook and came off the sides of the bowl. I let the stand mixer slap the dough around for 8 or nine minutes while I maintained a hands-on presence to prevent the machine from vibrating itself off the counter and onto the floor.
I coated the ball of dough with olive oil, covered the bowl with cling wrap and a towel and left it to rise in a warm spot on top of the freezer.
Somewhere between 1 and 2 hours when I was able to get back to it and the dough had risen, I very amateurishly formed two loaves, snipped the tops with scissors and left them to rise covered with a clean muslin towel.
I baked the risen loaves at 375ºF for about 30 minutes.
I didn’t like the dull appearance and I wanted a softer crust so I brushed the tops with olive oil.
It is imperative that the first tasting of a new loaf of bread be with a generous spread of real butter, preferably grass fed Irish butter.
The second tasting must be a slice of the bread toasted and spread with butter.
*As mentioned earlier, I could have used a lot more of the peppers, garlic chives and rosemary. The flavors of the peppers and herbs were barely perceptible. After eating three slices I did detect just a bit of warmth in my mouth from the chiles. Still, I was very pleased with this bread.