If making my daily soda bread is a pleasurable chore, this yeasted corn bread with fresh kernels is the fun side of baking. And, besides, it's another recipe from my friend Tanna, who baked the bread for the crew while crossing the Atlantic in a small yacht. More than once.
This is an enriched bread, light and golden, speckled with corn kernels. Unlike most enriched bread, not a hint of butter - instead, eggs and honey, as well as the kernels. So not an everyday bread ... a special, autumnal treat.
It takes all day, though the yeast does all the work. Tanna started at 10pm and was taking the bread out of the oven at 5am. I am not an early-morning person, so I started at 11.30am with the idea of eating the bread for supper, but got side-tracked in the early evening, so it came out of the oven at 10pm ... we've just eaten some for breakfast, and it'll be brilliant with the soup we're having for lunch. But like all bread, you can adapt the timings to suit your life ... & actually, if you start the first step at 10pm, you could leave the mixture in the fridge, and do the second step at breakfast, rather than at midnight. (And I could have baked my loaves in the morning, again by putting them to rise overnight in the fridge.) Yeast cookery is very forgiving.
I'm giving a link to Tanna's posts about this bread, because they are very inspiring, and because they've got photographs of all the steps, which are useful for anyone who hasn't made much bread. I'm just going to give outine instructions and notes on the changes I made to the original recipe, mainly for my own benefit, because I will want to do this again. The method is just like any other yeast bread. I don't know if you could do this in a breadmaker, I'm afraid, because I've never used one.
Tanna's corn bread
strong white flour
one corn on the cob
two large eggs
1. Make a poolish by mixing together:
190g strong white bread flour
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
190g water at room temperature
Leave for two hours. When you return to it, it will be bubbling full of life. I put water straight from the cold tap, because I knew it would be three hours before I got back to it.
2. Add 160g water at room temperature to the poolish.
3. Then mix the dough. Put the following ingredients into the bowl of your mixer:
375g white bread flour
140g polenta (I used the instant sort which is all you can easily buy in a British supermarket)
the kernels cut from one cob
two large eggs
40g honey (2 tbsp)
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
Add the poolish. Mix with the dough hook for about five minutes until you get a smooth, soft/sticky dough. Tanna says she had to add 2 tbsp of bread flour to get the dough to be manageable, but I found it was fine. But don't start adding flour until you've kneaded it (by machine) for at least four minutes, and then add it a teaspoon at a time, because you don't want this mixture to get too dry (then you'll get hard bread).
At this point Tanna added 2 tbsp salt and 1/8 tbsp Chilpotle Chili powder. I didn't do either. Partly by choice, but also because next time I'd put them in at the same time as the poolish for a better mix. We like to keep salt out of our diet if possible, so I was keen to see how this would turn out without it ... the answer is that it's fine, but another time I'd probably put a pinch of salt. And I'd also put in finely diced fresh red chili.
4. Leave to double. Tanna has a glass bucket with volume markings that she uses, so she knows exactly when the dough has doubled. I'm less scientific, although if I see a similar bucket on sale, I am sure that I will sleepwalk my way to the checkout.
5. Knock the dough back, divide it in two, shape it and put it into two large loaf tins. Let it rise to the top. Brush with beaten egg (I didn't do this, and it was a mistake ... the top caught slightly after 40 minutes in the oven - but, by then, it was cooked anyway).
6. Bake in the oven at 180C for 50-60 minutes, but start checking after 40 minutes.
Thank you Tanna .... this is lovely, a lovely project for a beautiful and delicious autumn treat. And another bread which reminds me of a great day in London filled with laughter and fun.
Stepping out in style - More Robert Lorimer: the garden staircase at Hill of Tarvit.
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