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August 5, 2018 - Changing Recipes and Hatch Green Chile Bread

After the past two or three LONG newsletters, this shorter one might be a relief. And that it’s REALLY about baking might make it even better.

Back to bread - The Texas Cottage Food laws prohibit a cottage food baker from selling foods that need refrigeration, foods that are apt to spoil. A number of my breads have cheese in them, and this could be a problem. We’re looking into the matter. Until then, we’re experimenting. And that’s what we’ll share with you, along with the formula for a really nice bread.

A number of years ago we were on vacation in Albuquerque and saw a bakery with a big sign on it, “Home of the Original New Mexico Hatch Green Chili Bread”. You know I had to go try it, so we got a loaf and took it back to the hotel. The next day I went back to talk shop with the baker. I'm embarrassed to admit I forgot his name, but it has been over 15 years, since I met the gracious baker at the Golden Crown Panderia. He was a very friendly guy, as are most bakers. We talked shop, he gave my son some really nice cookies. At the time, they were baking turkey shaped breads to be the centerpiece for vegan Thanksgiving dinners – it seems a number of vegans in Albuquerque wanted a centerpiece, like a turkey, for their Thanksgiving dinner, just without meat. If I were a vegan, I'd get one - they looked great!

Simply put, the green chile bread is amazing! Rich, warm flavors with a slight pepper bite. I really wanted to make something like their bread at my bakery. I wasn’t gauche enough to ask for their recipe. Since the ingredients are listed on their web page, the baker shared that with me, and gave me food for thought. An essential ingredient is the Hatch green chile, which is amazingly flavorful and available in various heat levels. If you ever get to Albuquerque, stop by. They're nice folks who make great breads and cookies. They also make great pizzas and have a good beer selection on draft.

They make the bread as a straight yeast dough, but I wanted to go further, while keeping the flavor profile of yeast, so I decided a poolish bread was the answer.

Before we go further, let’s talk about the hatch green chiles a bit more. We are lucky in that a number of local grocery stores have people come and roast the peppers in front of the stores during the harvest season. You can buy as many peppers as you want, in your preferred heat range. We always go for the hottest. Remember, the peppers will be diluted in bread dough. We take them home, still smoking from the roaster, put them on sheet pans making sure they don't touch and then into the freezer. These become what is called IQF in the trade, or individually quick frozen. Once frozen, they go in zip lock bags so I can pull as many, or as few, out as I need.

When roasted, the outer skin of the pepper chars, and you want to rinse that off before using the peppers. I rinse them under cool water and rub off the charred skin. This also thaws them. At that point, I can use them in scrambled eggs, green chili, bread or many other things.

You want to get freshly roasted peppers if you can. If not, look for frozen peppers. A number of companies in New Mexico will be happy to send you frozen peppers. Don’t use canned ones, they are too wet and not flavorful.

Our recipe started with a mixture of diced hatch green chiles, Parmesan cheese, diced tomatoes, Mexican oregano, basil and cilantro. It worked very well, but when we moved from being a professional bakery to being a cottage food bakery... I think you see the problem. Based on my current understanding of Texas Cottage Food law, we'd have a violation if we sold that bread.

We researched vegan replacements for Parmesan cheese. One that worked well was a cup of cashews, 2 TBSP of nutritional yeast, and ½ tsp of salt. It worked very well. Try it on popcorn or pizza, it’s really nice!

However, as we were enjoying the bread we realized that we didn’t taste the cashews. They might as well have not been there. What we wanted from the Parmesan was the umami taste. And the nutritional yeast delivered that. Did we need the cashews at all? Or the added salt? Our great baker friend in Boston, Daisy Chow, confirmed our guesses and suggested we might only need the nutritional yeast.

That led to another experiment – just the nutritional yeast. And that loaf was as good as the Parmesan loaf. Without the cost (or legal liability) of the Parmesan, or the cost of the cashews. We’re sold.

The point here is that recipes aren’t carved in stone. Feel free to play with them! Until you do, they aren’t really your recipe. Many of my recipes were inspired by better bakers than me.

Well, I promised to share the final recipe… so here goes. This is for a 1 ½ pound loaf.

Poolish - We start by making a Poolish – 12 hours before you want to mix the final dough -

Grams Ingredient Baker’s Percentage
120 grams Water 100%
120 grams Bread flour 100%
.1 gram (1) Instant Yeast .2%

Mix, cover and allow to ferment at room temperature about 12 hours. We talk more about poolish in our Mastering Flavorful Breads cookbook.

(1) – YES, that really is 1 tenth of a gram. I use a My Weigh MX-300 jewelers scale to measure small amounts. The point of a poolish is to use less yeast and create more flavorful breads. If you can’t get a jewelers scale, mix 1 gram of instant yeast with 99 grams of flour. Replace 10 grams of the flour in the recipe with 10 grams of the flour and instant yeast mix which should .1 gram if yeast in it if you mixed it well.

Green Chile Spice Mix – mix shortly before you use it

Grams Ingredient Percent
70 grams Diced Hatch Green Chiles (1) 59.32%
35 grams Diced Tomatoes (2) 29.66%
2.6 grams Nutritional Yeast (3) 2.21%
5.2 grams Cilantro, dried (4) 4.41%
2.6 grams Oregano, dried (5) 2.21%
2.6 grams Basil, dried (4) 2.21%

Notes -

  1. Chop off the stem end of the peppers, and dice the rest, seeds and all.
  2. Remove the stem end core of the tomatoes, and dice the rest. The seeds and pulp are the most flavorful part of the tomato. Also, you can use canned diced tomatoes if you want.
  3. Nutritional yeast is available in most health food stores. No need to get the debittered yeast.
  4. If you prefer to use fresh herbs, use about 4 times what is called for here.
  5. I prefer Mexican oregano if you can find it. Check with our friends at Rancho Gordo if you can’t find it locally.

Final Dough -

Grams Ingredient Percent
130 grams Water 41%
120 grams Hatch Green Chile spice mix 37.87%
230 grams Poolish (1) 75.09%
310 grams Bread flour 100%
.2 grams Instant Yeast (2) 0.06%
6.2 grams Salt 2%

Notes -

  1. The poolish will probably be a bit less than this weight. It has been losing carbon dioxide and water all night long. Use whatever you mixed up, it’ll be OK.
  2. Yes, two tenths of a gram. Use a jewelers scale, or 20 grams of the flour mentioned above in the poolish instructions.

I mix all the ingredients, do a rough mix with my hands, just enough to get all the flour wet. Then every hour for three hours, I do a stretch and fold.

After the last stretch and fold, I let the dough rise to twice its size, and then loaf it into a boule, let it rise again, and then bake it at 400F for about 45 minutes with steam in the oven for the first half the bake or so.

I hope you enjoyed the story, and will let me know if you made the bread – pictures would be great!

Until next time, may your dough always rise no matter what sort of strange stuff you put in it!

2 thoughts on “2018-08-05 – Changing recipes and Hatch Green Chile bread”

  1. Mike,
    In regards to the Hatch Green Chili bread….
    You worked so hard to find a replacement for the Parmesan (nutritional yeast)!
    I hate to ask it, but I will anyway…. I would like to make this recipe with Parmesan instead of the nutritional yeast. Can you recommend an amount of Parm to get me started? Sounds like a great recipe. I have roasted Hatch chilies in my freezer and I want to give this a go!
    Thanks, Kay

    1. Hi Kay,

      Our next step was to do without the nutritional yeast altogether since we weren’t really sure what it brought to the table. And, once gone, we didn’t notice its absence. Or the absence of the parm.

      However, if you want to try the bread with Parm, here’s the amounts:
      Hatch Green CHioli Spice Blend

      Best wishes,

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