Every year at this time, we enjoy the arrival of hatch chiles from New Mexico. They appear in our grocery stores, and we look forward to using as many of them as we can before they’re gone for another year. Our nearby Central Market sets up big, rotating roasters, and the smell of chiles fills the parking lot. You can buy the chiles fresh or roasted and bagged, and they’re available in hot and mild. They’re also used in all kinds of products throughout the store such as hatch chile hamburger buns, hatch chile cheese, hatch chile sausages, etc. So, in honor of these chiles, and just because it had been too long, an Austin food blogger potluck was held on Sunday, and the dishes were to be hatch chile-themed. Now, the last time I attended a food blogger potluck, I decided I should only use tried and true recipes. This time I went another way, got a little experimental, and worried even more about what I made. My sourdough starter hadn’t been used for weeks, and I had never before shared any of my sourdough bread with anyone other than Kurt. So I chose to experiment with a hatch chile and garlic bread and let other people sample it for a change. I took inspiration from a roasted garlic bread by Dan Lepard and once again worked from the Breads from the La Brea Bakery book.
I followed the recipe for the Italian ring bread, but instead of folding chopped marjoram into the dough, I used chopped, roasted hot and mild hatch chiles and whole cloves of roasted garlic. This dough made use of both sourdough starter and fresh yeast, so I hoped it would have enough strength to rise with the vegetables I added. The recipe is written as a two-day bread, but there is a 12 hour waiting time on the second day. I timed it out to make it a three-day bread instead. Day one only required making a sponge from starter, bread flour, and water. On day two, the dough was made from the sponge, fresh yeast, bread flour, salt, olive oil, chiles, and roasted garlic. It started as what I thought was a slightly too dry dough, but after adding the vegetables, it seemed slightly too wet and sticky. I kneaded in a little more flour and crossed my fingers.
It went through the usual rituals of resting, kneading, fermenting, being divided, resting again, and then being formed into boules which were refrigerated overnight. On day three, the dough was brought up to room temperature and then turned out onto a board. A peel was floured so a boule could be loaded on it, and then a hole was cut in the center of the boule with a biscuit cutter. The hole was to be stretched to three times its original size, and the piece of dough removed was baked as a roll. Luckily, I baked one loaf at a time because the first one suffered from the hole not being made large enough. It closed in on itself like a giant bialy, but I got it right the second time. Of course, the oven was spritzed a couple of times during the first five minutes of baking, and that produced a crispy, crackly outer crust.
The interior was chewy and similar in texture to ciabatta although less open in structure. With the chiles and garlic, each piece of bread was almost a meal in itself, and I liked that about it. I think this bread with some cheese on the side would be great for a picnic. One loaf was taken to the potluck, and the other will be re-warmed and served with salad for dinner tonight. I survived presenting my homemade bread to a group of food bloggers, and they were even kind enough to say they liked it.
I’m submitting this to Yeastspotting where you’ll find some seriously well-made bread.