This is another baking project by my wife. This recipe is from the “Beard on bread” cookbook. “Beard on bread” sounds funny. I imagined a beard growing from the surface of the bread but of course “Beard” is the name of the late, famous “cook, cookbook author and TV personality” James Beard. The annual James Beard Foundation Award is considered the “Oscar” of the culinary world. In any case, my wife looked through the book and decided to make this bread.
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup boiling water
1 Tsp salt
2 packages of active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100 to 115 degrees)
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 cup warm milk
1-2 Tsp salt
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
4 to 4 1/2 All purpose flour
Pour the cornmeal and salt into the boiling water. Stir vigorously until it cooks and becomes thick. (You are basically making polenta). Before the cornmeal completely cools and solidifies, add the cooked cornmeal, warmed milk, salt and brown sugar to a stand mixer with a dough hook. Stir to make a creamy mixture with no lumps. Let cool until slightly warm. Bloom the yeast in the 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tbs. granulated sugar. Add to the milk mixture. Add the flour one cup at a time. Stir until the dough is smooth and elastic. (Add more flour if necessary). Knead in the mixer for 7-10 minutes.
Put the dough in a bowl with a small amount of vegetable oil. Coat the dough in the oil. Cover and let rise until doubled in a warm place. When doubled punch the dough down and make two loaves. Put in a well greased loaf pan (the more butter used to grease the crunchier the crust because the dough is basically frying). Let rise again until almost doubled. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes then lower the temperature to 350 and continue baking another 20 to 25 minutes or until the loaves are nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped. The original recipe said to take the loaves out of the pan and put on the rack of the oven for a few minutes to crisp the crust. We didn’t do that.
This bread reminds of us of English muffin bread my wife makes. Both have a nice crunchy texture. This one has a pleasant faint corn flavor, of course, from the cornmeal. This bread can be used in any dishes where English muffin bread is called for and also good every day bread.