Prep2 hrs 15 mins
This recipe is from a wonderful cookbook called "From the Cook's Garden." It makes a sturdy homestyle bread with a hint of sweetness. I like mine spread with herbed cream cheese and topped with garden-fresh sliced tomatoes.
- 3⁄4 cup cold water
- 1⁄2 cup yellow cornmeal or 1⁄2 cup polenta
- 1 1⁄2 cups boiling water
- 1⁄2 cup molasses
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1⁄4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees farenheit)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- Mix the cornmeal with the 3/4 cups cold water in a medium saucepan.
- Whisk in the boiling water and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- When the cornmeal mixture starts to boil, add the butter, molasses and salt.
- Cook until the mixture is the consistency of pudding-- stirring constantly.
- It should take about 7 minutes.
- Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and let it cool to lukewarm.
- Don't get impatient with the cooling, because if it's too hot (over 115 degrees farenheit), it will kill the yeast.
- It will form a skin on the top, but it's no big deal.
- Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a small bowl and let it sit until the yeast looks foamy.
- Stir to dissolve the yeast, then add it to the cornmeal mush.
- Just an aside about the"warm" definition in case you are a beginning bread-maker without a thermometer.
- The temperature you want is when you drop water on your wrist, it feels neither cool nor hot-- test it the way you would a baby's bottle.
- I killed yeast with too-hot water when I was starting out.
- Now back to the recipe.
- Mix the all-purpose and wheat flours together and start stirring them into the cornmeal mixture, a cup at a time to make a soft, sticky dough.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured work service and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
- You can add more flour as needed, but don't get carried away.
- Because of the molasses, the dough will stay sticky.
- As long as the dough isn't sticking excessively to the board, you have enough flour.
- I knead this with my stand mixer, and there's always a little"smear" of dough around the edges of the bowl.
- Form the dough into a ball and put it in a large, lightly oiled bowl.
- Turn the dough ball to get a little oil all over it.
- Let rise until double in size, about an hour.
- Punch the dough down (Really, just pick up the sides and let it collapse on itself. No need to be violent.), cover with a towel, and let rest in the bowl for 10 minutes.
- Get two 9-x5-inch loaf pans ready by lightly oiling them.
- After the dough's little rest, divide it into two pieces and shape each piece into a loaf.
- Put them in the loaf pans, and roll them around so they get a nice little coating of oil.
- Cover with a towel and let the loaves rise until they touch the top of the pan.
- That takes about half an hour.
- While they're rising, preheat the oven to 400 degrees farenheit, and position your rack in the center of the oven.
- Slide the loaf pans in and bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove the loaves from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.