As a kid, one of my favorite snacks after a long day at school was a piece of jalapeño cheese bread from the supermarket. It was a free-form loaf covered in a crusty lava flow of caramelized cheddar, studded with slices of pickled jalapeños. I relished the way one bite would be an explosion of nutty caramelized cheddar, while the next bite might light my mouth on fire with a rush of capsaicin and vinegar. Beneath the crust, the tender bread hid pockets of cheddar that made eating a piece a bit like mining for gold.
The other day I was craving this childhood favorite, but given how much pickled jalapeños cost here, I decided to do a more elegant take on the rustic loaves I grew up on. Jalapeño Cheddar Rolls are essentially a brioche-based cinnamon roll with the cheese and jalapeños substituted in for the cinnamon and sugar. Rolled up, sliced, and stuffed into a brownie pan, the dough erupts into towering rolls of buttery bread, layered with cheese and jalapeños.
By rolling the dough fairly thin before you roll it, the cheese creates a kind of laminated dough, with layers of flaky buttery bread and cheese. To ensure I get a pocket of cheese in every roll, I add a bit of extra cheese in the center of the roll, which melts into a reservoir of gooey cheddar in the center.
I figured these would turn out pretty good (I mean how can you go wrong by layering brioche with lots of cheese?), but to call these pretty good would be a bit like calling the sun warm, or Mr. T self-assured. If the insanely hunger-inducing aroma of baking bread, butter and caramelizing cheese aren't enough to entice you while they bake, then you'll certain to be sold when you pull one of the rolls apart from the rest, crackling as the crisp cheddar encrusted exterior gives way to a flaky, buttery interior, with swirls of melted cheese and peppered with slices of jalapeño.
- ½ cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 285 grams bread flour (about 2 ¼ cups)
- 4 tablespoons cultured unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 240 grams Cheddar cheese (shredded about 2 cups)
- 120 grams pickled jalapeno slices (about 1 cups)
- Heat the milk until warm, about 105 degrees F (40 C). Stir in the sugar, yeast, and ⅓ of the flour. Cover and let this mixture rest in a warm place until it's doubled in size.
- Put the butter and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until the butter is soft and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated (it's okay if the mixture looks a little chunky).
- Add the yeast mixture to the mixer along with the remaining flour and mix to combine. Switch to the dough hook and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and roll it out into an 18 x 18 inch square (45 cm x 45 cm).
- Sprinkle evenly with cheese, putting a little extra cheese towards the edge closest to you and then scatter the drained jalapenos evenly over the top.
- Roll the dough up and then slice the roll into thirds and then slice each third into 3 wheels.
- Arrange them in a 8" x 8" non-stick pan, cover with a damp towel and let it rise in a warm place. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- When the dough has risen to fill the pan, place it in the preheated oven and bake until golden brown (30-40 minutes).