Welsh Dragon Bread

IMG_0868My small homage to St David’s Day, this wonderful crusty bread has helped me cut through my stockpile of overwintering leeks and dried chillies.

The chilli is really quite mild but adds an interesting dimension which complements many savoury dishes.  The leeks, as with onion bread, give a great richness.  All in all, a very versatile loaf with plenty of interest

I’ve used a couple of my favourites – the Chipotle Morita, with it’s intense smoky hotness, and the mild Guajillo, which makes a wonderful thick red Mexican sauce and gives this bread a colourful intensity, and a delicate flavour similar to pine nuts.  You can, of course, use any dried chilli you fancy, and vary the amount to give an intensity which suits your tastes.  Fresh chilli can also be used, but will give more of a stark effect, and much of the ‘subtlety’ that chilli gives to this bread may be lost

This loaf used up the last of my freshly milled wholemeal flour from our recently renovated local windmill at Holgate.  This has been a real revelation – I literally saw the grains of wheat milled into flour and bagged up before my very eyes.  It really doesn’t get any fresher than that, and the flavours are the best I’ve ever tasted.  If you ever get a chance to try real, freshly stone-ground flour, don’t pass it by.  If you happen to be in the middle of York, give the Holgate Windmill a visit.  A fully restored, 18th century 5 sailed windmill, located on a roundabout in the middle of a housing estate is a sight to behold!  The Holgate Windmill Preservation Society have done a wonderful job bringing this back to the community – well done, and keep grinding that flour!


  • 2 dried Chillies (I’ve used Chipotle Milato & Guajillo)
  • about 600ml Boiling Water
  • 45g Butter
  • 3 small-medium Leeks, washed & finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 250g Strong Wholemeal Flour
  • 50g Rye Flour
  • 200g Strong White Flour
  • 10g Fast Action Yeast
  • 8g Salt
  • Flour for dusting
  • Semolina Flour (optional)


  • Put the dried chillies in a pyrex jug and cover with the boiling water to rehydrate.  Leave for at least 5-10 minutes, longer if possible.  The chilli should swell up and become quite soft
  • In a small pan, melt the butter and sweat off the leeks gently for a few minutes until soft
  • Remove the chillies from the jug, but don’t throw away the water.  Gently ‘squeeze’ to remove any excess water from inside the rehydrated chilli, and shred/chop finely, seeds and all
  • Add the chilli to the leek, along with the sugar.  Continue to cook gently, covered with the pan lid, for 5 minutes or so.  Do not allow to burn, but caramelising is just fine.  Set aside to cool
  • In a large bowl, add the flours, salt and yeast.  Mix lightly before adding about 330ml of the water used to soak the chillies – NOTE: This water should be tepid, not hot
  • Mix lightly with a knife before adding in the cooled leek mixture and all the juices from the pan.  This should give quite a wet mixture which will form a soft, sticky dough, difficult to knead
  • Once the dough has been roughly mixed, oil a clean surface with a little olive oil and tip the dough out.  Knead mix all of the ingredients well – use a dough scraper to help.  After an initial kneading, stretch and fold 4 times, once in each ‘quarter’ direction.  Cover the dough with the bowl and leave for 15 minutes
  • Repeat the stretch & fold 3 more times at 15 minute intervals.  After the 4th time, the dough will have risen well and have much better structure
  • Shape the dough into a neat round and dust with flour.  Put on a baking sheet sprinkled with semolina or flour and cover with the bowl.  Leave to prove for about an hour
  • Pre-heat an oven to 220oC (fan).  After the dough has finished proving, it will have approximately doubled in size.  Carefully cut the dough into quarters with a dough scraper or large sharp knife, trying not to knock out too much of the air
  • Through the dough quarters onto a baking stone or use the baking sheet, making sure you leave enough room between each piece for the dough to spring
  • Bake for approx 25 minutes

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Pb says:

    That looks extremely tasty, I shall give it a whirl soon I think.
    Very interested in the mill (being a Yorkie) and wish mail order was available. Must send the Pock rellies out to get me some and post it up to Orkney.

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