Cornbread with jalapeño and halloumi

Discover how easy it is to make cornbread, a dinnertime staple in the US. This crumbly, savoury quick bread is packed full of corn flavour with cheese, chilli and sesame to add extra seasoning. Great served with chilli or soup, or eaten as it is with a little butter melting on top.

First published in 2015
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Cornbread is a popular staple on dinner tables in the US, but is rarely made in the UK. I can’t think why – we have all the ingredients readily available, it comes together very quickly and tastes divine.

In the US it is often served with chilli, soups or recipes containing beans. But it’s also great with a little butter smeared on or just eaten out of your hand while you stomp across the Yorkshire Dales (okay, maybe that’s just me).

There are simpler ways to make cornbread, using only polenta (cornmeal) and no fresh corn, but the addition of fresh corn, blended and cooked down to a purée so it doesn’t add too much extra moisture, takes the corn flavour in this bread to the next level.

You can adjust the spiciness of this bread in several ways – reduce the amount of chilli, use a different type of chilli or scrape out the seeds and membranes of the chilli before chopping it finely. However I do think the chilli is important here and should not be omitted. It adds a lovely layer of fresh chilli flavour to the bread, as opposed to mere hotness.

Cypriot halloumi is not a traditional choice, but it should certainly become one. As it doesn’t melt, you’re left with big, chewy, salty chunks of cheese in the dough that are a very nice surprise when you come across them.

Cornbread is best eaten warm, not too long after it has come out of the oven, but if that’s not practical or you have leftovers, store the bread in the freezer. Out on the work surface or in the fridge it will go stale very quickly.





Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
Mix all the dry ingredients (polenta, flour, baking powder/soda and salt) in a large bowl. Cut the halloumi into 1.5cm cubes and add to the bowl. Finely chop the fresh chilli and add to the bowl. Set aside.
Cut the kernels off the ears of corn and add to a food processor.
Blend until very smooth and lump-free.
Add the corn purée to a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom constantly, until very thick – 5-10 minutes depending on the heat under the pan.
Turn off the heat and add the honey and butter (leaving 15g of butter for later), stirring until melted. Stir in the buttermilk. Add the eggs and yolks and whisk everything until fully blended.
Scrape the wet mixture into the dry mixture and fold everything together until just combined – do not overmix or the bread could turn out tough.
Heat a 30cm cast iron frying pan (or similar heavy pan) over medium heat until hot. Add the last 15g butter and swirl until completely melted. Scrape the cornbread mixture into the frying pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and bake in the hot oven for about 20 minutes – when the cornbread is ready, the top will be golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre will come out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool and firm up for about 5 minutes. Shake the pan to make sure the bread is loose and carefully slide onto a wire rack to cool.
Serve warm, cut into wedges, possibly with a little salted butter melting over the crumb.
First published in 2015

Specialising in vegetarian food, Nancy has cooked her way around Europe and now writes full time for publications and her blog, Delicious from Scratch.

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