Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Creative Energy

Sitting idle is a dangerous thing for me. I mean, really - my brain refuses to shut up at the best of times, and when there's food involved to be thinking about? That's just asking for trouble. Or a plethora of random baking experiments like the ricotta-cherry turnovers I made last week to accompany the baked pasta at the Boys and Girls Club (I didn't post a recipe, but it was a blend of ricotta, honey, lemon zest, and a little whipping cream spooned into triangles of thinly-rolled crescent roll dough that I brushed with egg, topped with a maraschino and wrapped like a samosa and baked). But who doesn't love a change from the ordinary once in a while? I mean, some of the most famous chefs in the world exist because of their incurable curiosity - think Grant Achatz, Thomas Keller and Ferran AdriĆ . A few simple ingredients - for me usually comprised of leftover bits and pieces of my fridge stash - can turn into any number of things. There are flops, for sure, but then you get something wonderful.

Something like these loaves, that filled the house with such rich and decadent aromas from the moment I mixed the dough to when they were fully cooled that I knew they were nothing but delicious. They stemmed from a leftover tub of herb and garlic cream cheese and some aging potatoes in the bin, and a half container of ancho chile paste I had saved for an unknown reason made a vibrant orange-red spiral that added an earthy, underlying hit of spice. The super-tender loaves sliced incredibly well after they cooled, and when one of my taste-testers toasted it for an omelette sandwich she said it was the best one she'd ever had! I don't know if it's the best bread in the world, but I do know I'm sending it into YeastSpotting at WildYeast!

Tender Cheese Bread with Ancho Swirl
Makes 2 loaves, 16 slices each
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup herb-and-garlic cream cheese, cubed and softened
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tbsp oregano
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk, warm
1/2 cup reserved potato water
1 tbsp instant yeast
4 cups flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1/3 cup ancho chile paste* (about 2 whole chiles, soaked in hot water 1 hour and pureed to a thick spread)
  1. In a large saucepot, boil potatoes until very soft - about 25 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup water, and return to the pot over very low heat.
  2. Add cheese, garlic, oregano, sugar, salt, milk and water. Mash until it's a completely smooth, slightly thick liquid.
  3. Pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool slightly, about 5-6 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together yeast and flours.
  5. When the potato mixture had cooled slightly, beat in the eggs, followed by the flour in small batches to form a soft, smooth dough.
  6. Continue mixing fr 8-10 minutes, until all the flour is incorporated.
  7. Turn onto a floured board and knead 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
  8. Cover and let rest 40 minutes.
  9. Deflate dough, divide in half.
  10. Roll one half of the dough into a rectangle, spread half the ancho paste overtop.
  11. Roll dough up as you would for a cinnamon-raisin bread (jelly-roll style) and place in a greased loaf pan. Repeat for remaining dough and filling.
  12. Cover loaves and allow to rise 1 hour.
  13. Preheat oven to 375F.
  14. Bake the loaves for 15 minutes, then cover with foil and bake a further 20 minutes.
  15. Turn out of pans immediately and cool on wire racks.
*Ancho chile paste is also made by Purcell Mountain Farms

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 134.3
Total Fat: 2.9 g
Cholesterol: 18.8 mg
Sodium: 64.1 mg
Total Carbs: 22.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.9 g
Protein: 4.7 g


  1. We love the food and we love the blog. In fact, we love it so much that we have nominated you for an award, well-deserved:


  2. I love the idea of the ancho swirl. I bet this bread DID make an excellent egg sandwich!

  3. The ancho swirl is a fantastic idea. My husband LOVES anything with ancho in it (almost as much as anything with cheese in it), so this recipe would be a sure hit. Fun to find your blog today for the first time- found the link via yeastspotting.


  4. That swirl of cheese got me from the moment, I spotted it. Kudos.


Thanks for the feedback!