I missed last year's World Bread Day hosted by the lovely Zorra at Kochtopf, so I was determined to take part this year. And I wanted to use this as an opportunity to try out a new recipe. One of my favorite books on bread is Artisan Baking Across America by Maggie Glazer. It's full of wonderful breads, and even though the book occupies a place of honor in my bookcase, I've never made a single one. One bread in the book that I've wanted to make is the Hi-Rise Bread Company's cornbread. A yeast bread with cornmeal and freshly cut corn kernels, it took me all day to produce two marvelous loaves of fragrant bread loaded with corn flavor. The crust on the bread is so similar to the cornbread my family makes, I felt quite homesick as I ate it. Because this is a yeast bread, it's lighter than traditional cornbread and makes great toast and sandwiches.
Making the bread isn't difficult, just a bit time consuming. I was happy to see that I needed to make poolish, a sponge made with yeast, flour, and water. For one thing, I like saying the word "poolish". My lips purse like I'm kissing the air when I say it, which I imagine makes me look kind of sexy. It also impresses people who don't bake bread. They think I'm quite an expert. Poolish.
Here is the dough after it was kneaded for 7 minutes in my Mixmaster. It's a moist, sticky dough, unlike bread dough that most people are accustomed to dealing with. Don't worry, it's supposed to be that way.
The Roundup for World Bread Day will be the weekend of October 20/21, so do check it out at Kochtopf. There will be wonderful breads to admire and dream about.
Make a poolish:
1-1/4 cups unbleached bread flour
1-1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (Rapid Rise)
3/4 cup water, lukewarm
Combine the flour and yeast is a large bowl, then beat in water. This will produce a very gloppy batter. Cover the poolish tightly with plastic wrap and let it ferment until it is very bubbly and well risen, about 2 hours.
2/3 cup water, lukewarm
2-1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 cups plus 2 tablespoons stone-ground white cornmeal
about 3/4 cup fresh corn kernels (1 large ear)
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
1 tablespoon salt
Add the remaining water to the poolish and stir to loosen it.
By Hand: Combine the flour, cornmeal, and corn in a large bowl. Add the watered poolish, 2 of the eggs, the honey, and oil. Stir the mixture with your hand until it forms a rough dough. Turn it out onto your work surface and knead it, without adding flour and using a dough scraper to help (you are crushing the corn kernels into the dough as you knead). When the dough is soft and sticky, add the salt. Knead until the salt is dissolved and the dough is tighter and very smooth, about 2 minutes.
By Mixer: Combine the flour, cornmeal, and corn in the mixing bowl. Add the watered poolish, 2 of the eggs, the honey, and oil. Stir the mixture with your hand or a wooden spoon until roughly combined. Using the dough hook, mix on low to medium for about 5 minutes and the dough is very smooth. Add the salt and mix for about 2 minutes until it is dissolved.
This is a soft and sticky dough, so don't be surprised at the way it looksh.
Fermenting the dough:
Place the dough in a container at least 3 times its size and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough ferment until it is light, well expanded, and doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.
Shaping and proofing the dough:
Generously butter two 9 x 5-inch baking pans. Cut the fermented dough in half. Using a rolling pin and plenty of extra flour for dusting this sticky dough, gently roll out one piece about 1/4 inch thick, pressing out any bubbles. Fold the sides of the dough into the center, letting them overlap by 1 inch or so. Roll out the dough again so that it is as wide from folded edge to folded edge as your baking pan. Moisten your hands with water and lightly pat the dough so that it is just slightly tacky. Now roll the dough up like a jelly roll, keeping the folded ends on either side. Pinch the seams to seal it, and lay the cylinder seam side down in one of the prepared pans. The cylinder should fit length-wise but should not touch the sides of the pan. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Cover the loaves tightly with plastic wrap and let them proof until they have risen 1 inch above the pans, about 2 hours.
Preheating the oven:
About 30 minutes before the breads are fully proofed, arrange a rack on the oven's bottom shelf and clear away all racks above the one being used. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Baking the bread:
Beat the remaining egg until blended and brush the tops of the loaves with it. Bake the breads until well browned, about 50 to 60 minutes, rotating them halfway into the bake. Remove the breads from the pans and let them cool on a rack.