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cornmeal bread (direct method)

December 11, 2010

 Corn, or maize,  in one form or another has been  the staple grain of much of the Americas throughout the centuries.  Cornmeal , used in this simple recipe gives the bread a mildly rustic  feel, and hints at  possibilities for variations.

1 cup coarse cornmeal

3 cups bread flour

1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cup water

Place all ingrediants in your mixer bowl fitted with the mixing paddle and mix just till they form a ball.  With a dough hook,  knead on medium speed for about 5-6 minutes or until the dough is elastic, slightly wet,  but not sticky.  You may need to adjust the amount of water or flour. It should pass the windowpane test. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, rolling it around so that it is oiled. With  the dough smooth side up, cover the bowl with plastic.  Let the dough rise to double in volume at room temperature.

Remove the dough from the bowl and shape to desired form.  I usually make a batard or boule.  Place it on parchment paper and cover with plastic. Put a baking stone on an oven rack and pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Let the dough rise again to almost double.  Lightly mist the dough with water, sprinkle a little cornmeal on top of the dough and slash .

With a peel, slide the dough with the parchment paper onto your stone and lower the oven temperature to 400.  Rotate the bread in about 20 minutes to insure a more even baking.  When done, it should have a golden brown crust.  A more accurate way to determine doneness is to use a thermometer. The bread should reach 200 degrees.  If  the dough seems to be browning too rapidly during baking, cover it with aluminum foil .  Let the bread cool completely on a wire rack  before slicing.

Recently I tried this bread when it had not completely cooled.  The difference is very noticeable.  The flavor and texture come through much better after it has reached room temperature.

I enjoy this bread sliced, drizzled with a littly extra virgin olive oil,  and slightly toasted in the broiler or oven.  It makes a great accompaniment to chowders and  other soups. 

If anyone out there is reading this, the  recipe is designed for a home convection oven. Lower the oven temperatures  by 25 degrees for regular ovens. 

I’ll be experimenting with  an “indirect method”  approach  to extract more flavor from the flour and cornmeal .

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