Friday, March 5, 2010

Such Good Cornbread

I'm the kind of person with a million different favorites.  It's impossible for me to pin down my favorite color (purple?  coral?  blue?), I've always had more than one "best friend", and I cannot, for the life of me, pick my favorite food.  I am obsessed with pumpkin pie, I drool over Goldfish crackers, and my love for stuffing (OH, stuffing!) is epic.  Cornbread is another one of my favorites, albeit this is a lesser-known love of mine.

I've never had success in making my own cornbread from scratch.  I've only made quick, cake-like cornbread recipes and have always shied away from the amount of oil or butter necessary to make them moist and delicious.  This recipe (adapted from 101 Cookbooks) really spoke to me since it's a yeast bread, but it still contains the aspects of classic cornbread that make it so delicious - juicy corn kernels, sweet honey, and toothy cornmeal.

Incidentally, I've changed the original recipe quite a bit.  Not necessarily on purpose, but these things happen.  The largest change I made to the recipe is to include semolina flour in addition to corn meal.  Semolina, which is most often used when making fresh pasta, is more fine than cornmeal, but still gives more texture than run-of-the-mill wheat flour.  Dennis' mom generously donated the semolina to Sar and I to use in our bread-baking adventures.

Flour Power:
Whole Wheat flour, Corn meal, Semolina flour, Bread flour

Yeasted Cornbread 
(Printable Recipe)
More loosely adapted from this recipe at 101 Cookbooks than planned
Makes 2 standard sandwich loaves

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1 cup semolina flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen - thawed, if frozen)
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 eggs

Start by mixing the flours and the salt in a bowl.  Just so you know right now, you might not use all of this.  Accept it now - we hate waste as much as you do.  But overly dry bread is no good either.

In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Once it's had a chance to dissolve for a few minutes, stir in the honey, eggs, corn, and oil.  Once combined, add about 2/3 of the flour mixture and stir until combined.  Once totally combined, add half of the remaining flour and combine.  When it becomes too difficult to stir, turn the dough out onto a floured (use the bit left in the bowl) surface and knead it until combined.  You can add some water if the dough seems too dry - it should be tacky.  Knead for about 7-10 minutes.  

Once you're done kneading - what an arm workout, right? - oil a bowl and place the dough in the bowl, covered with plastic wrap, until doubled.  This should take about an hour.  Next, cut the risen dough in half and place each half in an oiled/cornmeal lined bread pan.  Allow this to rise until doubled again (another hour, or so).  It's a good idea to start pre-heating the oven to 375 degrees F after about 30 minutes and to place the dough on top of the stove while the oven heats...dough loves a warm place to rise.

Once doubled in the pans, bake the loaves for about 45 minutes in the pre-heated oven.  The internal temperature of the loaves will be 200 degrees F when they're done.

By the time the bread comes out of the oven you're going to be CRAZY over the smell that it fills your kitchen with - I'm practically dying as we speak.  But WAIT!  It hurts bread to cut into the loaf before allowing it to cool for at least an hour.  I know, it's hard, but baking bread is a constant lesson in patience.  Oh, and ENJOY (with some pear, butter, and a drizzle of honey)!

- Lil

PS - As you can probably guess, I'm going to turn the second loaf into stuffing.  And it's going to be awesome.  So watch out for that post. 

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