Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Honey Cornbread Recipe

This honey cornbread was baked in a tin in my gas oven.

A new loaf!

I’m going to bake honey cornbread today. Yum. I will also add a few more pictures and use this opportunity to do a quick ‘review’ of the whole process for those who still have questions – or if you just want the whole process on one page.

Phase 1 - "Starter" revision

  • Remove your starter from the fridge. Tip into a bowl and mix with a cup or two of water. Add enough plain flour to form a runny pancake batter. Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and leave overnight till it bubbles and is all foamy. If you get a layer of liquid on the top and no action after a while, add more food and stir again!
Phase 2 - "the Sponge"
  • Take a few tablespoons of bubbly sponge and place in a screwtop jar with a hole in the lid, along with a teaspoon of plain flour to keep it fed for the week.
  • Place jar in fridge where it will live until the next loaf.

Phase 3 - "the Dough"
  • Take the bowl of foamy sponge and add to it 1 to 2 tspns of salt, 2 Tbspns honey. Stir.
  • Add 1 cup corn meal/ corn flour (not polenta - corn meal is a little finer in grain. Kalla is a good brand and is sold in Coles).
  • Add 1/2 cup of gluten flour. Stir. Note: Gluten is particularly important in this recipe as corn has no gluten. Therefore to make a loaf that rises properly, is chewy and ‘bready’, gluten must be added to ‘strengthen’ flour.
  • We have already added the corn meal/flour in the last step. Now, as we need a mix of corn and plain white flour (preferably organic) for this bread, we will now add the white flour. Gradually stir in white flour to the mix, in half-cup measures.
  • When the dough starts to ‘stick together’ in a clumpy mass, turn it out onto a floured board. Fill the empty bowl with water now or you won’t be able to clean it later as sourdough has a habit of drying impossibly hard…!

  • Begin kneading, adding more plain white flour if it sticks - not too much. Keep the dough wettish.

  • It’s ready… shape into a loose ball and…..
  • Place in an oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap and a tea towel.
  • Leave in a warm place to rise while you enjoy a good book!
  • NOTE: Clean your kneading board (or bench):
    A wooden cutting board is best, as it doesn't host bacteria. Simply scrape down and rub some coarse salt in to get rid of any doughy bits.

Phase 4 - "the Punching Down"

  • The dough is risen nicely (it took about 4 hours as today was pretty hot) and does not 'spring back' when you poke it with your finger.
  • Flatten the dough down gently.
  • Fold the dough into a square.
  • Now we will start to stretch the dough. Begin by cupping the dough into your hands and start to ‘pull’ the dough down and under itself, stretching and cupping the dough. This process is much gentler than ‘kneading’ the dough as we don’t want to be rough with it at this stage.
  • Stretch, and pull the dough under itself.
  • Do this seven or eight times. That's enough - see the small tear at the side? That means the dough is stretched to its limit.
  • Place in a plastic bag secured with a knot to stop it growing too much in the fridge.

  • Place in the fridge overnight or up to 36 hours. The longer the resting time, the more ‘predigested’ the bread is – but the texture is different, too. Experiment!

Phase 5 - The baking

  • Good morning – crikey the dough has risen, even in the fridge – it’s nearly filled the freezer bag! That tends to happen in summer….
  • Place loaf gently in a floured loaf tin. I’m making a square loaf today.
  • (Note – at this stage if you wanted to make pizza or flatbread you’d roll the dough out and flatten it completely, taking all the air out, then leave it to get to room temperature before baking the pizza/flatbread on a pizza stone).
  • Leave the bread to rest, covered, for 2-4 hours, until returned to room temperature. It will also rise a little more.
  • Preheat the oven to 210C at least half an hour before baking. Place a pan of water in the bottom of the oven to act as a ‘humidifier’ to help make a that crispy, chewy sourdough crust we all love.
  • When returned to room temp and risen, 'score' or cut a pattern in the bread with a sharp knife. Dust with corn flour.
  • Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Check after 30 minutes.
  • Below is a picture of a loaf that is not yet propertly cooked …See how it is too light in colour and when you tap the loaf it does not sound 'hollow'.
  • NOTE: It’s better to have an overcooked loaf than an undercooked one – as sourdough has no ‘floury’ taste it is almost impossible to burn. And the browner, the tastier, you will soon find.
  • Below is a picture of a properly cooked loaf. The loaf is quite brown, and has a very ‘hollow’ sound when you tap it on the bottom.
  • Use a knife to get it out of the tin if it sticks a little on the sides.
  • REMEMBER to wait 1 hour before eating the bread - technically it's still 'cooking' and it will go hard if you cut it prematurely. It will be difficult but you must wait...
  • Enjoy!