This Jalapeno Bread is spicy, cheesy, and soft. In a word, perfection.
Baking bread is an exercise in faith.
It’s mystery and miracle and mess all wrapped in one yeasted loaf.
I’m a reluctant bread baker. I come to the process a skeptic. Even as I watch yeast send frothy bubbles to the surface of warm water, I wonder, will this actually work?
And as dough works against the grain of my palms, folded and rolled and pressed, I ask, will this really be worth it?
And then there is the waiting. Oh, how I hate the waiting. Dough is turned into oiled bowl and covered from anxious eyes. There’s nothing that can be done. Nothing to see. Nothing to do. Only the waiting and the wondering, why am I even bothering with this bread baking business?
But when I return, the skeptic is rewarded.
Wonder of wonders, the dough is risen.
But there’s more. There is rolling and patting. A smattering of jalapeno and green onion. A sprinkle of chili powder and handfuls of cheese. Then a roll. And a slice down the middle. And an attempt at braiding and shaping this stubborn loaf.
And suddenly cheese is everywhere. Jalapenos are jumping ship. There is panic and fretting and I think to myself, this looks like a hot mess.
But there is that mustard seed of faith, that tiny bit of hope that remains. Maybe this will work, despite all my mishaps and failings.
Dough is squished into pans. Another season of waiting. Another miracle.
Dear Jesus, it rose!
A hot oven, a held breath.
30 minutes later, a lofty, golden loaf. The smell of yeasted bread. A little slice of heaven slathered in butter and eaten while it’s still hot enough to burn the tongue. Spicy, cheesy, soft bread. It’s perfect.
Friends, my life is this jalapeno bread. I look at it—these fragments–this flour and water and salt, and wonder how it will ever be anything but flour and water and salt. I wonder how these broken pieces could ever make something whole.
In the waiting, I wonder. What am I doing? What the heck is Jesus doing? What’s He creating with these humble ingredients I’ve laid before Him?
Sometimes all I see is the hot mess. I see cheese flying off countertops, dough sticking to wax paper, a misshapen braid squished into a pan. I don’t see the subtle changes. The ways the yeast is working. The ways Jesus is slowly raising me to new life in the day to day, mundane, in the waiting.
But I look back and see. I see how in seasons of waiting and confusion and mess, He was making something new. He was making me new.
So I make bread. Not because I trust myself or my skills. But because I trust the yeast. I trust that despite my feeble hands and skeptic heart, flour and water and salt are being transformed into something all-together different. Something whole. Something new. Something good.
This bread is something good indeed. It’s soft and spicy and makes an absolutely killer grilled cheese. This recipe makes two loaves, so feel free to mix it up and try different herbs or seasonings on each one. Or wait until next week and I’ll show you how to use the same recipe to make a sweet cinnamon swirl loaf.
- 794 grams (6 1/2 cups) bread flour
- 2 tsp. fine salt
- 5 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. lukewarm milk
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. fast rise yeast
- 1/4 cup melted, unsalted butter
- 4 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
- 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
- 1/3 cup green onions, diced
- Chili powder
Recipe adapted from Seasons and Suppers