Basque Cornbread (Pain De Maïs)

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Total Time
4hrs 45mins
Prep
30 mins
Cook
4 hrs 15 mins

Columbus took cornbread back to the Old World in the 15th century, and thanks to some of his Basque crew, cornbreads took hold and are still produced in local bakeries. Nice with a hearty soup or stew.

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Ingredients

Nutrition
  • 14 cup honey
  • 3 cups water (warm 100-115 F, too hot will kill the yeast)
  • 4 12 teaspoons active dry yeast (1/2 oz)
  • 4 12-5 cups bread flour
  • 3 cups cornmeal (plus extra cornmeal to dust baking sheet) or 3 cups polenta (plus extra cornmeal to dust baking sheet)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 14 cup olive oil (plus olive oil to coat bowl)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together honey, water, and yeast until smooth (1 minute); let stand in a warm spot until a thin layer of foam covers the surface (5-10 minutes).
  2. Add 1 cup of the bread flour and the cornmeal and salt; mix well.
  3. Cover bowl, and let dough rise for 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Stir in oil and 3 cups flour, scraping and folding until the dough comes away from sides of bowl and gathers into a single mass.
  5. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (10 minutes), adding flour as needed to keep dough from sticking.
  6. Lightly oil a large bowl, turning to coat all sides; transfer dough to bowl.
  7. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  9. Punch dough down, cover, and let rise for 35 minutes.
  10. Lightly grease a baking sheet and dust with cornmeal if making rounds or grease 2 (9-inch) loaf pans if making loaves.
  11. Cut dough in half and shape each half into either a round or a loaf.
  12. Let dough rest, covered loosely with a towel, for 20 minutes.
  13. Beat eggs with milk to use as a glaze; brush dough with egg mixture.
  14. Bake until bread is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom (50 minutes).
  15. Remove from pan and cool on rack.