I give you the jewel of my cookbook and one of my all time favourite things – a lovely corn bread. I first tried it at my couisin’s Christmas lunch and immediately fell in love with it, so I asked my mom to take the recipe down. She did and since then, I can’t even count the times we had this bread at home. It is so good, I said it was rustic because indeed it is nothing like light and spongy breads many of us are used to. Quite the opposite, this corn bread is dense and doesn’t rise much during baking. It is nevertheless so soft, and can be preserved for up to a week wrapped in a kitchen towel.
I love the crunchy crust on top and the crackly look of it and I love the soft and almost wet-like inside of this corn bread that remains dense and full of flavour. The flavour is hard to describe – it has a bit of sweetness to it because corn is actually sweet and there is some honey added to it, but at the same time it is savoury because that’s what bread should be in my opinion. And finally, there is just a smallest bit of bitterness that again comes from the baked corn flour which I think gives this bread its character.
Last week I had a cold and it was bugging me a lot, so I decided to make myself feel better by making this corn bread. I love it with everything – sweet and savoury. Oh, and try my favourite combination – smear some good quality honey and have it with a glass of yoghurt. If you are by any chance lover of good old domestic flavours, this is a bread to make. Try it!
preparation time: about 4 hours, rising included
baking time: 60 minutes, 180°C (350 F)
baking pan size: 25×11 cm/10×4,3 in
Ingredients for the dough:
400 ml water
1 Tbsp sugar + 2 g active dry yeast
360 g corn flour
40 g white all-purpose flour*
4 g salt
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp olive oil
*White flour is just to help the yeast get going. It isn’t as cooperative with corn flour as it is with white flour.
1. Take 100 ml of the water, warm it until it’s tapid, add yeast and a tablespoon of sugar, mix it together and let it rest in a warm place for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast gets foamy – that means it’s activated.
2. Take the rest of the water (300 ml), put it in a saucepan and put on medium high heat until it boils.
3. In the meantime, sift both kinds of flour and salt in a big heatproof bowl and add boiling water. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture gets crumbly and the flour has soaked up the water.
4. Add honey and yeast mixture. Now you can use electric mixer with dough hooks attached and slowly, with patience, mix everything together. In the end add olive oil and mix everything one more time.
5. Take it out of the bowl and finish by kneading the dough with your hands very lightly because it will be sticky if you press it really hard. The texture will be on a softer, cakier side, but don’t worry – it’s that kind of bread. If you must, add some more (white) flour, but don’t add too much. Only if it sticks to the surface to much. Mine was perfect just as the recipe says.
6. Form a ball and put it in a large bowl. Drizzle the top with a tiny bit of olive oil and smear it all over the dough so it doesn’t form a crust. Leave it in a warm place to rise for 2 hours (I always put it in the oven. I don’t turn the oven on, I just leave it there because it is draught-free).
7. After two hours, the dough should be much softer. It will not have risen much, but if you gently touch it, you will be able to feel all the air pockets that have formed inside the dough. Kned it a few times on a floured surface (again, don’t add too much flour) and transfer it to a loaf pan covered with parchment paper, level the top with a spatula and let it once again rise for 1,5 hours.
8. After 1,5 hours, put the loaf into a preheated oven at 180°C (350 F) and bake for an hour. Mine baked for exactly 60 minutes, but it can depend on the size of your loaf pan. Just like when baking a cake, the sides of the bread should be golden brown, top will be all crispy and crinckled, but if you stick a thin knife or a toothpick in the center, it will come out dry. I suggest checking on the bread after 50 minutes and then see from there.
9. Take the baked bread out of the oven and as soon as it rests for 10 minutes, you are welcome to try it. Store it covered with a clean kitchen towel and it will stay soft and moist for even a week. You will get a 640 g loaf of bread out of this recipe.