Chili Oil Cheddar Cheese Sourdough Bread

Difficulty Medium

A modern twist on a classic: Chili Oil and Cheddar Cheese Sourdough Bread. Infuse your standard sourdough loaf with spicy aromatic Chili Oil and sharp Cheddar Cheese. The end result is the most delicious homemade bread. Serve with butter and a drizzle of hot honey. YUM!

Chili Oil + Cheddar Cheese Sourdough Bread

If you love baking sourdough at home, try this version: Chili Oil + Cheddar Cheese Sourdough Bread. An artisan, bakery-style boule that’s addictively tasty with ribbons of chili oil and cheddar cheese baked directly into the loaf.

While I love plain sourdough bread, adding inclusions is an easy and fun way to add more flavor. In this case, chili oil and cheddar cheese make a truly special, mouthwatering combination. They add savory depth and a subtle spicy element. An unexpected pairing that is absolutely delicious!

Add as much or as little Chili Oil as you like. I like to add a thick layer with lots of crisp from the bottom of the jar. The flavor infusion is subtle but pronounced. With a generous amount of salty, sharp cheddar cheese, it’s full of savory, umami-rich flavor.

Serve with butter and hot honey for the ultimate slice of sourdough heaven. Enjoy!

What is Chili Oil?

Spicy, aromatic Chili Oil is a popular Chinese condiment that’s become a pantry staple in many North American kitchens. Well known for its heady, mouth-tingling, fragrant spice, it’s enjoyed with dumplings, wonton, noodles, and fried rice.

Make homemade Chili Oil. Or buy the classic Lao Gan Ma from an Asian market. Even Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Target sell chili oil nowadays.

What is Sourdough Bread?

At the most basic level, sourdough is fermented bread.

Wild cultures — instead of conventional yeast — are added to flour and water. They work as a natural leaven to give sourdough its rise, unique tangy flavor, crackly blistered crust, and chewy, springy interior.

Sourdough is more nutritious than regular white bread. The long fermented dough is lower on the glycemic index, easier to digest, and contains gut-healthy prebiotics.

To make sourdough bread at home, you’ll need starter — or fermented wild cultures. Make your own, buy starter online, or ask a friend for extra.

Also, you’ll need time. A long, slow fermentation process is essential to build flavor and structure. But it’s well worth the effort and patience.

Ingredients:

For the bread:

  • Sourdough starter. Make sure your sourdough starter is bubbly and active. Sourdough starter, also called levain, is a fermented culture made from wild yeast. It acts as the leavening agent that causes sourdough bread to rise. Make your own starter or ask a sourdough-baking friend for extra starter. Or, buy dehydrated starter online.
  • Bread flour. High-protein bread flour is recommended over all purpose flour. The higher protein percentage will add structure and yield a higher rise.
  • Salt. Sea salt, mineral salt, or kosher salt is recommended.
  • Lukewarm Water. Make sure the water is lukewarm or room temperature (110F/43C). Hot water can kill the wild cultures. Cold water can slow down the fermentation process.

The inclusions:

  • Chili Oil or Chili Crisp. Adds a spicy and savory layer of umami richness. Either Chili Oil or Chili Crisp will work for this recipe. Chili Oil “melts” into the bread while it bakes, adding another flavor dimension without added texture or color. Chili Crisp contains lots of minced garlic, shallot, and sesame seeds — and adds a more pronounced layer of texture and color.
  • Cheddar cheese. Sharp cheddar cheese adds salty richness and depth. You won’t exactly taste the cheese but it adds an extra flavor dimension. Either cubed or grated cheese tastes great. I prefer grated, as the flavor is more evenly distributed and melts seamlessly into the bread as it bakes. But chunks add big pockets of cheese that are dotted throughout the loaf.

Instructions:

  1. Mix dough. In a large bowl, add bubbly, active starter and lukewarm water. Whisk until there are no large clumps and the liquid looks milky and cloudy. Add flour and salt directly on top. Mix the dough with a spatula until it looks like a shaggy ball and there are no more visible streaks of flour. If there is a visible layer of flour, use wet hands to squeeze the dough until fully absorbed.
  2. Bulk Fermentation. Bulk Fermentation, also called the “first rise,” is the first step in fermenting sourdough while still in one large (bulk) mass. Typically taking 3-5 hours, this step enables the dough to develop gluten networks and build essential structure and tension in the bread. Bulk Fermentation is finished when the dough has roughly doubled in size with visible bubbles throughout the dough and on the surface. *Note: depending on the temperature of your kitchen and the strength of your sourdough starter, this typically takes 3-5 hours and up to 8-12 hours.
  3. How to bulk ferment: cover the shaggy dough ball and rest for 1 hour at room temperature. Remove the lid and stretch and fold the dough 4-6 times. Cover and rest for 1 hour, then stretch and fold again. Cover and rest for 1 hour, then stretch and fold again for a minimum of three sets of stretch and folds. Repeat until roughly doubled in size.
  4. Add chili oil. Lightly flour a clean counter. Gently dump the dough onto the counter. Stretch gently into a rectangular shape, making sure not to rip or puncture the dough. Drizzle chili oil or chili crisp all over the surface of the rectangle. Using the back of a spoon, evenly spread out the chilli oil. Make sure to leave a 1-2 inch border on the edges of the dough.
  5. Add cheddar cheese. Sprinkle the grated cheddar cheese directly on top of the chili oil. Again, leave a 1-2 inch border on all the edges.
  6. Shape the dough. Fold the dough into thirds, like an envelope. Roll the envelope of dough into a boule or round ball, making sure to pinch the ends together. Make sure not to puncture the dough.
  7. Final Proof. The 2nd rise or Final Proof is the last step in the fermentation process. After shaping the dough, transfer (seam side up) to a banneton bread basket. Or, use a bowl and dishcloth. Cover with plastic wrap or a shower cap. Transfer to the fridge for 12-24 hours.
  8. Pre-heat oven. Place a Dutch oven in the middle rack of the oven. Preheat the oven and Dutch oven to 500F.
  9. Score. Transfer the cold dough from the fridge onto a piece of parchment paper, right side up. Using a bread lame, score the loaf. Make sure the cut is deep enough to allow the steam to escape.
  10. Bake. Transfer the parchment paper and scored loaf to the pre-heated Dutch oven. Add 2-3 ice cubes to the Dutch oven and cover. Be careful and use heavy-duty insulated oven mitts — it will be very hot! Bake covered for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking until brown and crispy, another 25 minutes.
  11. Cool. Transfer to a wire metal rack and remove the parchment paper. Cool for 1-2 hours at room temperature. It should crackle while it cools. Do not cut into the loaf immediately or the bread will be gummy.
  12. Enjoy! When cooled, cut into thick slices. Serve with butter and Hot Honey.

Summary notes:

  • 75% hydration dough. (500 grams bread flour, 375 grams water, 150 grams starter, 10 grams salt).
  • No autolyze — I add the salt and flour in one step and skip this step completely.
  • 3-5 hour bulk fermentation; Stretch and fold every hour until roughly doubled in size. At a minimum, you must complete 3 sets of stretch and folds.
  • 12-24 hour final proof (in the fridge).
  • Preheat oven to 500F. Immediately lower to 450F when baking.
  • Bake covered for 25 minutes. Then bake uncovered for 25 minutes.

Sample Schedule for Bread Making:

Note: This is a sample schedule; I do not recommend strictly following it. Instead, gauge how much time each stage needs by sight, smell, and practice. The time for each stage is approximate and will depend on the temperature of your kitchen and the strength of your starter.

*Generally, warmer weather (75F and higher) and a strong starter will speed up the process. Conversely, colder weather (68F and lower) and a sluggish, weak starter will slow it down.

  • 10 AM: Feed sourdough starter. Time to wake up the cultures!
  • 3PM: Make dough with bubbly, active starter. Cover and set aside 1 hour.
  • BULK FERMENTATION:
  • 4PM: 1st set of stretch and folds.
  • 5PM: 2nd set of stretch and folds.
  • 6PM: 3rd set of stretch and folds.
  • SHAPING THE DOUGH:
  • 7PM: Shape the dough and add inclusions. FYI: Typically, sourdough bread is shaped twice — a pre-shape and a final shape. But in this recipe, the dough is shaped only once.
  • FINAL PROOF IN THE FRIDGE:
  • 7:15PM: Transfer shaped loaf to Banneton bread basket. Cover and transfer to the fridge overnight for the final proof, about 12-24 hours.
  • 10AM: (the following day): Bake sourdough.
  • 11AM: Transfer to wire rack and cool completely or at least 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
  • 12PM: Slice and enjoy sourdough bread. Preferably with butter and hot honey!

PRO Tips:

  • Make sure the sourdough starter is bubbly and active. The key to making good sourdough. Feed your starter about 4-6 hours before you plan to mix together the dough. Or, feed your starter the night before you make bread. The starter is ready when doubled in size, and bubbles can be seen throughout the starter and on the bottom and surface. It will smell pleasantly fruity and yeasty. The texture will be runny. *To check: drop a small spoonful into a glass of water — if it’s ready, the starter will float. If it sinks to the bottom, it’s not ready.
  • Bulk ferment in a clear container. When bulk fermenting, it can be difficult to determine when the process has finished. If you prefer, use a clear glass bowl or food storage container for a better view of the bubbles on the bottom and sides of the dough.
  • Add a baking sheet to the oven. Add a baking sheet to the rack directly underneath the Dutch oven to prevent the bottom of the loaf from becoming too dark. It will evenly distribute the heat so the bottom doesn’t burn.
  • Be careful when shaping the loaf. The inclusions make it challenging to shape the dough. Be careful not to puncture or rip the dough. But if you do, pinch the dough back together. FYI, you won’t be able to build as much tension as a plain loaf.
  • Pinch the seams. When shaping the loaf, pinch the side seams firmly. Pinching will ensure that the inclusions (chili oil and cheese) do not burst out the sides of the loaf.
  • For a lighter color, lower the oven heat. I prefer a dark, crusty sourdough loaf. If you prefer less color and texture, lower the heat to 400F after removing the lid from the Dutch oven.
  • Sourdough breadmaking is a process! Every kitchen is different in terms of temperature and humidity levels. I live in Toronto, Canada — a cold and dry city; I typically make sourdough in the winter and keep my house temperature very cold, about 68F/19.5C. My bread-making process will differ greatly from someone living in a warm, tropical climate.

Essential Kitchen Tools

  • Food scale. Use a food scale to ensure accuracy. Breadmaking requires precise amounts of liquid and dry ingredients.
  • Banneton Bread Proofing Basket. Not necessary, but nice to have. When the loaf goes into the fridge for the 2nd or final rise, a banneton helps to maintain the boule shape. Use a bowl and a clean kitchen towel if you don’t have one.
  • Bread Lame. For scoring the bread — an essential step to release steam while it bakes. You won’t get a proper rise without a sharp score from a lame. A bread knife or sharp knife won’t yield the same results.
  • Dutch Oven. Bake the loaf in a cast iron Dutch Oven with a lid. The baking process happens in two steps: covered and uncovered. When covered, the dutch oven will produce steam for better oven spring.
  • Large bowl. Use a larger bowl than you think. A large bowl makes it easy to mix ingredients.
  • Cover. To prevent skin from forming on the dough, cover while it rises during bulk fermentation. Plastic wrap, a tight-fitting stock pot lid, or a silicone cover all work well.

FAQ:

Why do I need to add ice cubes?

Adding ice cubes is optional. It adds extra steam for better oven spring and ensures a crisp, crackly crust.

How do I store leftovers?

Chili Oil Sourdough bread stays good for 24-36 hours at room temperature. Store in a bread bag or a breathable container for 1-2 days. After that, transfer to the freezer. Storing in the freezer is the best way to maintain the chewy texture and crispy crust. To reheat, bring to room temperature or reheat briefly in the oven or air fryer at 325F. I recommend slicing before transferring to the freezer in a ziploc baggie.

Can I double the recipe?

Yes, this recipe easily doubles. Mix and bulk ferment in one bowl, as per usual. When it’s time to shape the loaves, cut into two pieces before shaping. You’ll need two bannetons for the final proof. You’ll also need two Dutch ovens. Otherwise, you’ll need to bake each loaf separately.

More recipes:

cut loaf of chili oil sourdough next to jar of chili oil

Chili Oil + Cheddar Cheese Sourdough Bread

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
A modern twist on a classic: Chili Oil and Cheddar Cheese Sourdough Bread! Spice up your standard sourdough loaf with spicy Chili Oil and lots of sharp Cheddar Cheese. The end result is the most delicious homemade bread. Serve with butter and a drizzle of hot honey. YUM!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Bulk Ferment + Final Proof 17 hours
Total Time 18 hours 20 minutes
Course Bread
Cuisine American, Asian
Servings 12 slices
Calories 207 kcal

Equipment

  • Food scale
  • Large Bowl
  • cover *plastic wrap, stock pot lid, or silicone cover
  • Banneton bread proofing basket
  • Dutch oven
  • Bread Lame

Ingredients
  

  • 150 grams active, bubbly sourdough starter
  • 375 grams lukewarm water
  • 500 grams bread flour
  • 10 grams salt
  • 125 grams sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 Tbsp (15-30 grams) Chili Oil or Chili Crisp

Instructions
 

  • Mix dough. In a large bowl, add bubbly, active starter and lukewarm water. Whisk until there are no large clumps and the liquid looks milky and cloudy. Add flour and salt directly on top. Mix the dough with a spatula until it looks like a shaggy ball and there are no more visible streaks of flour. If there is a visible layer of flour, use wet hands to squeeze the dough until fully absorbed.
    sourdough batter in bowl
  • Bulk Ferment: cover the shaggy dough ball and rest for 1 hour at room temperature. Remove the lid and stretch and fold the dough 4-6 times. Cover and rest for 1 hour, then stretch and fold again. Cover and rest for 1 hour, then stretch and fold again for a minimum of three sets of stretch and folds. Repeat until roughly doubled in size.
    hands folding sourdough
  • Add chili oil. Lightly flour a clean counter. Gently dump the dough onto the counter. Stretch gently into a rectangular shape, making sure not to rip or puncture the dough. Drizzle chili oil or chili crisp all over the surface of the rectangle. Using the back of a spoon, evenly spread out the chilli oil. Make sure to leave a 1-2 inch border on the edges of the dough.
    adding chili oil to laminated sourdough
  • Add cheddar cheese. Sprinkle the grated cheddar cheese directly on top of the chili oil. Again, leave a 1-2 inch border on all the edges.
    hands placing cheese on top of sourdough bread
  • Shape the dough. Fold the dough into thirds, like an envelope. Roll the envelope of dough into a boule or round ball, making sure to pinch the ends together. Make sure not to puncture the dough.
    shaping sourdough boule
  • Final Proof. The 2nd rise or Final Proof is the last step in the fermentation process. After shaping the dough, transfer (seam side up) to a banneton bread basket. Or, use a bowl and dishcloth. Cover with plastic wrap or a shower cap. Transfer to the fridge for 12-24 hours.
    adding sourdough boule into bread basket
  • Pre-heat oven. Place a Dutch oven in the middle rack of the oven. When ready to bake, preheat the oven and Dutch oven to 500F/260C.
  • Score. Transfer the cold dough from the fridge onto a piece of parchment paper, right side up. Using a bread lame, score the loaf. Make sure the cut is deep enough to allow the steam to escape.
    cutting steam slit into sourdough boule
  • Bake. Transfer the parchment paper and scored loaf to the pre-heated Dutch oven. Add 2-3 ice cubes to the Dutch oven and cover. Be careful and use heavy-duty insulated oven mitts — it will be very hot! Bake covered for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking until brown and crispy, another 25 minutes. *If you prefer a lighter colored loaf, lower the heat to 400F/204C and bake for 35-40 minutes after removing the lid.
    sourdough boule in dutch oven
  • Cool. Transfer to a wire metal rack and remove the parchment paper. Cool for 1-2 hours at room temperature. It should crackle while it cools. Do not cut into the loaf immediately or the bread will be gummy.
  • Enjoy! When cooled, cut into thick slices. Serve with butter and Hot Honey.

Video

Notes

Tips:
    • Bulk ferment in a clear container. When bulk fermenting, it can be difficult to determine when the process has finished. If you prefer, use a clear glass bowl or food storage container for a better view of the bubbles on the bottom and sides of the dough.
    • Make sure the sourdough starter is bubbly and active. The key to making good sourdough. Feed your starter about 4-6 hours before you plan to mix together the dough. The starter is ready when doubled in size, and bubbles can be seen throughout the starter and on the top. It will smell pleasantly fruity and yeasty. The texture will be slightly runny but not overly stiff. *To check: drop a small spoonful into a glass of water — if it’s ready, the starter will float. If it sinks to the bottom, it’s not ready.
    • Add a baking sheet to the oven. Add a baking sheet to the rack directly underneath the Dutch oven to prevent the bottom of the loaf from becoming too dark. It will evenly distribute the heat so the bottom doesn’t burn.
    • Be careful when shaping the loaf. The inclusions make it challenging to shape the dough. Be careful not to puncture or rip the dough. But if you do, pinch the dough back together. FYI, you won’t be able to build as much tension as a plain loaf.
    • Pinch the seams. When shaping the loaf, pinch the side seams firmly. Pinching will ensure that the inclusions (chili oil and cheese) do not burst out the sides of the loaf.
  •  
    • Sourdough breadmaking is a process! Every kitchen is different in terms of temperature and humidity levels. I live in Toronto, a cold and dry city; I typically make sourdough in the winter and keep my house temperature very cold — about 68F/19.5C. My bread-making process will differ greatly from someone living in a warm, tropical climate.

Nutrition

Calories: 207kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 7gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 380mgPotassium: 48mgFiber: 1gSugar: 0.2gVitamin A: 84IUCalcium: 66mgIron: 0.4mg
Keyword Bread, Cheese, Chili Oil, Sourdough
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