Living in Peru, I was amazed by the amount of artisanal breads that I found wherever I looked. There, they are baked daily without preservatives, hence, with a short shelf life, which is a good thing if you like to eat fresh, healthy food. The flavors are striking, and the immense variety of stone grind cereals make wonderful breads. One of my favorites is called chapla -from Ayacucho, high in the mountains- and it looks like pita bread. Chuta –from Cusco– is another darling of mine, but I must say that I love them all.
Today I woke up thinking of all these beautiful breads, and felt a sudden urge to bake. However, I didn´t want to wait for hours to have my homemade bread ready, so I decided to follow a recipe I adapted many years ago, from The Best Quick Breads, a wonderful book that I like very much. It´s a cheese and Maseca (corn flour) quick bread. The result is spectacular: cakey, soft, with the spicy flavor of rocotoand bell peppers, and a hint of corn/tortilla. Subtle yet bursting with flavor. And perfect for entertaining! Your guests will be blown away by this tasty homemade bread.
In Peru I use Paria cheese, from the Andes, but today I didn´t have any Peruvian cheese at home, so I used the one I had at hand: a Salvadorean Petacones with loroco, a white stringy cheese that melts beautifully and has the flavor and perfume of loroco flowers, just like pupusas with loroco. I bake the breads in a cast iron pan, but you can use muffin tins or a round baking pan. They are best if eaten the same day, or do as I do: wrap them individually in foil, and store them in a tin. To warm up, put them in a 350ºF oven without the foil, until the cheese melts again.
How do you like your bread? Do you have a favorite recipe?
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
- ½ orange (red or yellow) bell pepper, diced
- ½ rocoto chili pepper, seeded and ribbed, diced (I used canned rocotos)
- ¾ cups cake flour
- ¾ cup Maseca for tortillas
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ½ cup grated cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Heat the oil in a pan, add bell pepper and rocoto and cook for 5 minutes, stirring a few times. Turn off the heat. Reserve.
- In a bowl, mix the flours, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
- In another bowl combine egg, sour cream, buttermilk, cooked rocotos and peppers, and pour over the dry ingredients. The mixture will be crumbly.
- Oil the skillet or baking pan. If you are using the skillet, put in the hot oven for a few minutes. Take it out of the oven and pour the batter into the skillet or pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven, sprinkle with the grated cheese and bake 5 more minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- Turn off the oven, wait a few minutes for the bread to cool a bit, and enjoy!
If you want to find more recipes and stories like this, don´t forget to read the articles of the Amigas Blogueras!