Recipe: Leek, jalapeno, chilli and cheese bread

PUBLISHED: 17:16 31 October 2018

Cheese, leek, jalapeno and fennel bread  Picture: Archant

Cheese, leek, jalapeno and fennel bread Picture: Archant


Rustle up this warming bread to go alongside your favourite soup this autumn.

Don’t you just hate these dark autumn nights? They’re only good for a few things in my mind. One is reading a good book under a blanket (with those thick fluffy socks you got for Christmas on). The other is baking. For me, nothing brings more solace on a dank day than spending a while in the kitchen with the radio blaring and flour speckled all over my clothes. Bread is a familiar friend in my oven at this time of year, to be dunked, still warm, into a bowl of soup while hunkering down out of the rain.

Of all the things you can bake at home, bread is one of the simplest and cheapest. With just a few ingredients and a little time, the meagre components of flour, yeast, water and salt amalgamate into something really quite magical.

Once you’ve got the basics right, bread dough is really quite forgiving if you want to experiment with flavours. Layer it with curd and brush with a sugar wash for a sweet weekend breakfast treat. Throw in chunks of chorizo, roasted peppers and sundried tomatoes and serve it up alongside a chunky proper thick, braised chilli.

Caramelised garlic, robust herbs and brie make a magnificently indulgent filling for a round loaf – just tuck the dough around them, bake and cut while warm for an oozing, impressive starter that will illicit greedy whoops of joy from friends and family.

This week I’ve been whipping up batches of soup to see me through my working days – much nicer than soggy old sarnies!

My current favourite is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Butternut Nut Butter soup, combining spice, butternut and peanut butter into what can only be described as a soupy version of satay sauce. Nom. On the side it needs something with a bit of bite and pep, but also something a bit seasonal. Leeks have been a mainstay in my veg box delivery of late so it seemed only right to use them for this bake. Sauteed until soft, the leeks are seasoned with hot fresh jalapeno chilli, crushed fennel seeds and strong cheddar. The flavours really pack a punch and this bread is especially good topped with (even more) cheese for a very naughty Welsh rarebit!

Leek, jalapeno, fennel and cheese bread

(makes 1 loaf)


For the filling:

2 medium leeks, washed and sliced thinly

1 fresh jalapeno chilli deseeded and chopped finely

1tbsp fennel seeds roughly crushed

150g extra mature cheddar


Oil for cooking

For the bread:

500g strong white bread flour

1tsp salt

7g dried yeast

1tbsp oil

300-350ml warm water


Combine all the ingredients for the dough in a bowl and bring together into a scraggy ball. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.

Pour 2tbsps oil into a frying pan and add the leeks. Cook on a low to medium heat until very soft then add the chilli and fennel seeds and cook for another minute. Take off the heat and add the cheese.

Stir, season and pour into a bowl to cool.

On a floured surface knead your dough until springy and elastic, cover and set aside in a warm place to double in size.

Once risen split the dough in two and make two long rectangles of about 30cm long, 15cm wide. Split the leeks mixture equally between the two pieces of dough and spread down the very centre of each. Wet one long edge of each strip and fold over the other side, pressing to seal to make a sausage shape. Press the ends of both sausages together and twist them into a rope shape, pressing the ends and tucking them under to seal.

Place on a greased tray inside a plastic bag and set aside to rise.

Heat the oven to 220C. After about 30 minutes pop the bread in the oven, cooking for 25-35 minutes until golden, risen and hollow to tap on the bottom.

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