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Black Bean and Chipotle Bread
Also known as
Mexicali Heat

This recipe was adapted from Mark Miller and Andrew Maclauchlan's "Flavored Breads - Recipes from the Mark Miller's Coyote Cafe"

A somewhat chunky and rustic chipotle Bean Bread I've never been to the Coyote Cafe, but I've heard only good things about it, and the flavored breads title got me interested. The book was being remaindered, so it was all the more attractive. It was worth full price. However, being a sourdough fan(atic), I didn't want to make this bread with a sponge, the way Mark Miller and Andrew Maclauchlan do. So, it's been converted to sourdough. It is a moist, well risen loaf, that is rich with black beans, and warmed by the chipotle peppers. Mark Miller says it's reminiscent of a black bean soup, and I have to agree, but it's the smoky pepper bite that really makes this pepper-belly happy. Makes 3 good-sized loaves or 2 large loaves.

When we were running our bakery, we had trouble giving this bread away. Until we changed the name to "Mexicali Heat" - it just goes to show you that a name does matter, William Shakespeare not withstanding. No matter what you call this bread, I think you'll like it.

2 cups active sourdough starter
2 cups (1 lb) dried black beans, picked through and rinsed
1 cup reserved cooking liquid
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, or 1 1/4 tsp dried regular Oregano
8 dried chipotle chilies, stemmed and chopped (about 1/4 cup ), or 5 teaspoons canned minced chipotle peppers
1 1/3 tablespoons barbecue sauce

1. Do whatever you need to do to prepare two cups of active sourdough starter. While the starter is fermenting away go to step 2.

2. Pick over and clean the 2 cups of black beans. Cook until done. Make sure they are fully cooked. I usually cover them with water overnight, then cook them for 2 to 3 hours. For this bread, I don't salt or season the beans. If you're in a hurry, you can use canned beans, but I suggest salt free beans.

3. Next drain the beans, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid per batch of bread. If you don't have that much cooking liquid left, dilute the liquid with water to make 1 cup of liquid per batch.

4. Pulse the cooked beans in a food processor about a cup at a time until they are chunky, but not pureed. Try not to leave any beans whole and intact. The texture of the bean puree will affect the texture of the bread - you choose how smooth or chunky you want the bread. (2017 note - I have been known to just knead the beans into the dough and let the kneading break them down. It works quite well.)

5. Pour the reserved cooking liquid into a large mixing bowl.

6. Add the beans and sourdough starter to the cooking liquid.

7. Remove and discard the stems from the peppers. Chop the chipotle peppers. If you are using dried peppers this will be messy as they are dry and brittle. Use all the pepper, and the seeds as well.

8. Add and stir in the whole wheat flour, chipotle peppers, cumin, oregano, salt, and barbecue sauce.

9. Stir, and add the bread flour a cup at a time, until the dough becomes too stiff to stir. Pour out the dough into a well floured surface.

20. Knead the dough, kneading in additional flour as needed, until the dough is fairly smooth and springy. You may need to add more flour than is called for above, depending on how liquid the beans are. Knead 6 to 10 minutes. The dough should be soft and lively.

11. Transfer the dough to a lightly oil ed bowl, turn, and cover with plastic wrap.

12. Let rise in a warm place for 1 - 2 hours, or until approximately doubled in volume.

13. Punch the dough down, transfer to a well-floured surface, and cut into two or three equal pieces.

14. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal (or spray with Baker's Joy).

15. Shape the dough into loaves. Mark and Andrew suggested round loaves, I made oval loaves instead.

16. Place the loaves on the baking sheet, cover with a moistened and wrung out linen cloth, and let rise again in a warm place for 1 hour.

17. The original recipe calls for a baking stone. I suggest you use a baking stone or quarry tiles. Whether or not you use such, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

18. You may spay the loaves with water, and then lightly dust them with whole wheat flour. I didn't. However, you can get much the same effect with a banneton.

19. Make two or three diagonal slashes in the tops of the loaves with a razor blade to allow the dough to expand in the hot oven.

20. Put the bread in the oven, and put a cup of water into a tray on the bottom of your oven. (I use a disposable baking pan to hold the water.)

21. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is caramel brown, and the loaf is done. While some people like the "thump" test, I prefer to take the bread's temperature with a quick reading thermometer. At my altitude, I shoot for an internal temperature is 195F/90C. At sea level, I'd try for 205F/96C.

22. Cool the loaves on a rack.