This recipe makes the tastiest loaf of Sun-Dried Tomato & Cheddar Sourdough, with pockets of cheese and pops of sweet-tart tomatoes in each bite. It tastes like pizza bread! Using active sourdough starter, this loaf has wonderful flavor and a soft crumb. The crust acquires some of the cheesiness, too!
Wood River Creamery is located in Wisconsin, my home state! They produce award-winning specialty cheeses, handcrafted in small batches by Burnett Dairy Cooperative’s Master Cheesemaker. This one-of-a-kind, aged Cheddar Gruyere blend is creamy, nutty and delicious. It was the ideal choice for working into a loaf of sourdough because it melts beautifully, and bakes to perfection.
When to Add Cheese to Sourdough Bread
Just as in my Jalapeno Cheese Sourdough, you’ll fold in the cubed cheese and rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes during the 4th and final set of stretch and folds. Added earlier, it can negatively affect the fermentation, reducing the final rise in the bread.
How to Use Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Bread
In this recipe, you’ll simply soak regular sun-dried tomatoes in hot water to reconstitute them. Then drain and rinse to remove excess salt, and gently squeeze between paper towels before chopping into smaller pieces (if they are sun-dried tomato halves). That way, little pops of sweet-tart flavor are distributed in each bite.
Pairings For Sun-Dried Tomato & Cheddar Sourdough
This cheesy sourdough bread is a savory delight. Here are my favorite ways to eat it:
dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar
deli sandwich style, with smoked turkey, lettuce, and mayo, and hot pepper jelly
with ricotta and red pepper flakes
as a breakfast sandwich, with a fried egg and spinach
Sun-Dried Tomato & Cheddar Sourdough Bread
Using active sourdough starter, you'll make the tastiest loaf of Sun-Dried Tomato & Cheddar Sourdough, with pockets of cheese and pops of sweet-tart tomatoes in each bite!
In a large bowl, mix starter and water with a fork, until starter is dispersed.
Add flours, mixing with a spatula first. Then with your hand until a shaggy dough is formed, just enough so that flour is not visible.
Sprinkle salt on top of dough. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and let sit for 40 minutes to an hour. While the dough is resting, rehydrate the sun-dried tomatoes by pouring boiling water over the top of them in a bowl.
Now work the salt into the dough, squeezing the dough and mixing for 1 minute. Then as you perform your 1st set of stretch and folds. Then let rest for a half hour. Perform 2 more sets of stretch and folds, waiting the 30 minutes in between for each. (In essence, you are doing a total of 3 sets of stretch and folds over the course of 1 1/2 hours.)
After you have completed your 3rd set stretch and folds, wait another 30 minutes.
Drain and rinse the sun-dried tomatoes (important because some brands dry theirs with salt, which needs to be rinsed off or you will have a very salty bread). Pat slightly dry, and chop into pieces.
Now you will add the mix-ins. To do this, use a bench scraper to gently remove your dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Use your hands to gently stretch the dough out into a rectangle about 12 inches X 14 inches. Distribute the cubes of cheese and sun-dried tomatoes over the inside of the dough, leaving about a 1 inch border. Gently pat the ingredients with your hands so that they stick to the dough.
Using lightly floured hands, gently pull one long side of the dough out, and over 1/2 of the dough. Do the same with the other long side of the dough, so both meet in the middle. Now you’ll have long cylinder like log. Gently roll the dough up so it is a round shape and put dough back into bowl. This step doesn’t have to be perfect, it isn’t the final shaping.
Let the dough bulk ferment on your counter, covered with a damp cloth for about 5-6 hours if your house is around 70 degrees. It will take more time if it is cooler, or less time if it warmer.
When your dough has grown about 40-50%, has a smoother top and bubble or two peaking out the top , it is ready for shaping.
Gently move the dough out of the bowl onto a floured work surface. Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes. Then, shape the dough. Once shaped, use a bench scraper to put the dough into a rice flour dusted banneton (proofing basket), seam side of the dough facing up.
Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise for a final time, either on the counter which will take about 2 hours if your house is around 70 degrees – OR you can put it in the refrigerator in a garbage bag, and let the final rise happen overnight. The dough can be in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours at this stage. (If you do the final rise in the fridge, score and bake straight from the fridge. This makes it easier to score and hold its shape.)
Once your dough has gone through its final rise and has risen 30-40% and is puffy on top, you’re ready to bake. You can test to see if your dough is ready by doing gently pressing a floured thumb into the dough. If it indents and gradually releases, but still holds a finger shape, you’re ready. If it indents and doesn’t release at all, it still needs time to rise. Let it ferment in half hour more increments, until ready.
Preheat your oven with dutch oven inside of it, to 450 degrees F.
Wait until oven is preheated, then place parchment over the top of your dough and flip over, so that the seam side is now on the parchment paper and you are able to score the top of the dough. Score the dough with a bread lame, making sure to go at least 1/2 inch deep in a few spots so that dough can release gases. Otherwise your bread will not rise.
Place dough on parchment paper into dutch oven, and put cover on it. Bake for 25 minutes, covered. Then remove cover, turn oven down to 435 degrees F and bake for 15-20 more minutes, until bread is golden brown and crackly.
Remove from oven and place load on a cooling rack. Let cool for AT LEAST ONE HOUR before slicing. Otherwise the crumb will be squished and the texture will be gummy.