Spicy Southwestern Braid

This rustic cornmeal and cilantro flecked braid, redolent of the flavors of the Southwest and Mexico, is a hearty bread which can be served alone as a sandwich or with a simple soup or pasta dish. The braid is filled with layers of black or pinto beans, corn, green chiles, black olives, salsa and Pepper Jack cheese for a slightly spicy flavor. The dough is easily prepared in a bread machine on the dough cycle and can be made a few hours ahead of filling the braid, just refrigerate the dough a few hours or overnight until ready to assemble. With the exception of the cilantro, most of these ingredients can be found in your pantry.I find the bread machine a great tool in making some breads, but mostly use the dough cycle as I like to shape my own dough for a more natural looking bread. My bread machine of old finally froze up on me after many years of bread-making, so I bought a new Cuisinart convection bread machine which has 16 pre-set menu options, but the Artisan dough cycle, in addition to the normal dough cycle was what really sold me on the machine. Artisan dough requires a long, cool rise, perfect for French bread or focaccia. Of course, you don’t have to use a bread machine to make this dough, it can also be made by hand or with a heavy duty electric mixer. Spicy Southwestern BraidAdapted from Pizza, Focaccia, Flat and Filled Breads-From Your Bread Machine by Lora BrodyCornmeal Cilantro Dough2 teaspoons active dry or bread machine yeast1 teaspoon sugar2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour1/2 cup coarse ground yellow cornmeal1 1/2 teaspoons salt1 cup,plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water2 tablespoons vegetable oil1/3 cup lightly packed whole cilantro leaves, if using by hand or mixer method, chop cilantro leavesWith a Bread Machine:Place all ingredients except the cilantro in bread machine container. Process on the dough cycle according to the manufacturer’s instructions for your machine.If you machine has a mix in setting, when the beeper goes off, add in the cilantro. Otherwise, about two minutes before the end of the machine’s second kneading cycle , add in the cilantro. Check the dough about 10 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle; the dough should be a smooth ball. Adjust flour and water, if necessary. While dough is rising in the machine, prepare the filling. After cycle has completed, transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. By Hand or Electric MixerIn a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar, flour, cornmeal and salt. Make a well in the middle and add water and oil mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment of an electric mixer until ingredients are incorporated. If dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until a soft dough is formed. Mix in chopped cilantro. If kneading by hand, transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 5 minutes. If kneading with an electric mixer, change to a kneading attachment and knead for about 5 minutes on medium speed.Place in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to oiled side, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about an hour. While dough is rising, prepare filling. Filling1 can (16 oz.) black beans or pinto beans1 small can (3/4 cup) sliced black olives, drained3/4 cup frozen (defrosted) or fresh corn kernels1 small can (4 1/2 oz) chopped green chiles, drained1/2 cup salsa, spicy or mild2 cups (8oz) shredded Pepper Jack , cheddar or Monterey Jack cheeseAssemblyDivide dough into two equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll into a 15×10-inch rectangle. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Visually divide rectangle into thirds, each 10×5 inches. On the middle third of the dough, leaving 1-inch of space at each end, layer on half the beans, half the black olives, half the corn corn, half the green chiles,half the salsa and sprinkle on half the shredded cheese.Using a sharp knife or scissors, on the unfilled sides of each section of dough, make 6 evenly spaced 5 inch long cuts in the dough, cutting from one edge of one of the unfilled sides just to where the filling starts. Fold the small section of dough at then end of the filling over the filling. Alternating sides, cross the strips of dough over the filling tucking them underneath the dough on the opposite side, making a braid-like appearance. Repeat process with other rectangle of dough. Tent each braid with a tent of lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until puffy-about 1 hour.Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and filling has begun to bubble. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting. Makes 2 braids. To freeze cooked braid, let cool completely, transfer to a plastic freezer bag. Defrost while still wrapped so moisture will collect on the outside of the braid, not on the braid. Preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap loosely in foil or place directly on rack, reheat for ten to 15 minutes.

Spicy Southwestern Braid

See Spicy Southwestern Braid on Key Ingredient.

5 Comments

  1. AmyRuth
    November 2, 2008 / 3:37 pm

    Former Texas girl and totally at home in Mexico. Love Love Love your SW Braid Bread. Looks beautiful and yummy. Nice photos too,Great jobAmyRuth

  2. Lynn
    November 2, 2008 / 9:10 pm

    This looks really good, really good, except for the cilantro! I think you can divide the world in two. Those that love cilantro and those that hate it! I do think I am going to give this a try and substitute flat leaf parsley. It looks way to good to give it a pass just because of the cilantro. Beautiful braid.

  3. Grace
    November 3, 2008 / 10:01 am

    this is amazing! i’m pretty sure there isn’t a combination of beans and corn that i won’t enjoy, and wrapping it all up in a cilantro-flavored bread is ingenious. bravo. 🙂

  4. Jacque
    November 3, 2008 / 2:37 pm

    Oh my! That would be a perfect meal by itself…. yum, yum!I like the bread machine on the dough cycle too. It’s a lot less work 🙂

  5. Lo
    November 3, 2008 / 11:06 pm

    I love the idea of a stuffed bread… and this looks amazing. Kick it up a notch for me, OK hon?

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