Kick Up The Heat On Basic Sourdough Bread With These 2 Delicious Ingredients

It's no secret that cooking lends itself to experimentation. Recipes are more like guidelines, and tweaking them can lead to a new family favorite. Baking, on the other hand, is a science, and that means the idea of changing a tried and true recipe or making major additions can be intimidating. While some might love the security of knowing exactly what they're supposed to do for an amazing finished product, that can mean it's easy to fall into a rut — even with something as versatile as sourdough.

No one wants to waste a few hours of hard work — not to mention ingredients — on a failed experiment, but we have some good news: It definitely doesn't have to be that way, and there's a super-easy way to upgrade the bread you're making with that sourdough starter. Jalapeño cheddar bread is a staple at countless bakeries and restaurants, and while there are plenty of baked delights that might be difficult to replicate in a home kitchen, this isn't one of them.

There are a few different ways you can turn to jalapeños and cheese to upgrade your sourdough, and it's a flavor combination you can definitely utilize with your favorite recipe. Then, pair it with the right sides, spreads, and toppings, and you're guaranteed to have a hit come mealtime.

Jalapeños and cheese were made for each other

Everyone who keeps sourdough starter on hand for regular baking projects probably has their favorite basic sourdough bread recipe. It's great to have a reliable go-to, and what's really good news is that it's not hard to upgrade that bread with jalapeño and cheddar cheese. Perhaps the easiest tweak is turning that regular loaf into a sourdough sharing bread: Slice the loaf as if you were cutting it into slices, but don't go all the way down. Then load it up with cheese and jalapeños, and you have a brilliant appetizer for your next party.

You can also opt to bake the peppers and cheese into the loaf, and there's a secret to making this a success. Sourdough bakers will be familiar with the fact that baking bread happens in stages, and it's during the second proofing stage that you're going to want to add your jalapeños and cheddar. Also known as the bulk fermentation stage, this is when your dough has risen a bit, but before it's divided into separate loaves each shaped into their final size. 

These ideas work equally well with either pickled or fresh jalapeños, and it's entirely up to you whether you opt for sliced or diced peppers. Prepare ahead: Removing the seeds will make for a more mild flavor, then drain well for the best results. You can experiment with cheese as well, trying white, yellow, or even smoked cheddar.

Jalapeño and cheddar sourdough bread lends itself to a number of uses

Once you've made your jalapeño and cheddar bread, what can you do to get the most out of it? While it can definitely be enjoyed alone, the unique flavor of this bread lends itself to a number of applications — starting with chili. Serve alongside your favorite chili, soups, and stews, and you'll agree that it might be the perfect accompaniment.

This is also a great way to upgrade some of your favorite sandwiches. Use it for a grilled cheese, the next time you're craving a ham and cheese melt, or try it as an unusual replacement for hamburger buns. Have some leftover steak, or a few slices of roast beef? You're a little prep-work away from a sandwich that's channeling some seriously spicy Philly cheesesteak vibes. It's also brilliant with dip: Try pimento cheese, marinara sauce, spinach dip, or some Buffalo chicken dip. You can go sweet, too, with some jalapeño jam, and fans of jalapeño poppers will love simply adding some cream cheese.

Wondering why all this works so well? It's for the same reason milk soothes a burning mouth after you eat wings that are a tad too spicy: The dairy in the cheese works with the spice of the peppers, and magic happens.