From my story, “The Fisherman’s Wife”
Yield: two loaves
1 cup cold water, divided
1 package “Rapid-Rise” yeast
1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
½ cup yellow cornmeal
1 ½ cups boiling water
½ cup molasses
3 Tbsp. reduced fat milk
2 teaspoons kosher salt
5 cups All Purpose or Bread Flour
Grease or spray two 9”x5” loaf pans.
- Dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in ¼ cup of water. After a few minutes, the yeast will begin to foam.
- Add the cornmeal to the remaining ¾ cup of water, stirring slightly. Then add this to the boiling water, reduce the heat to low, and whisk until the cornmeal begins to boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the molasses, milk, and salt. Allow this mixture to cool to lukewarm, whisking infrequently. This should take about ten to fifteen minutes. (They may be a very few small lumps of cornmeal. This is okay.)
- Add the foaming yeast to the cooled, cooked cornmeal, whisking lightly to combine.
- Transfer the cornmeal to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer at its lowest speed, slowly add five cups of flour (you may need to add a bit more. The dough should gather smoothly on the dough hook. If it is sticking to the sides of the bowl you’ll know you need to add more flour. Do so only by tablespoons-full until the dough retreats from the sides of the bowl. A very small amount of dough pooling at the bottom of the bowl is okay, but too much sticking to the bottom is another cue to add a touch more flour.)
- Let the stand mixer knead the dough for another ten to twelve minutes.
- Turn off the mixer, using floured hands remove the dough hook from the dough, and while it is still in the bowl smooth the dough into a rough ball. Brush the dough lightly with oil, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a slightly warm place until approximately doubled in bulk, about 1 ½ hours.
- After the dough has doubled in bulk, using floured hands transfer it from the bowl to a lightly floured board. Knead the dough five or six times before shaping into a smooth, even, ball (this is an important step as the kneading redistributes the yeast.) Divide the dough in half, and roll each half into a seven inch-long cylinder and place into the prepared bread pans. Brush the loaves lightly with oil, cover the pans lightly with plastic wrap and set aside until again doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- About 45 minutes into the second rise, preheat the oven to 400˚F.
- After the dough has had its second rise, remove the plastic wrap, and sprinkle the loaves very lightly with cornmeal.
- Place the loaves on middle rack of oven. Bake for 15 minutes, and then reduce the temperature to 375˚F and bake for another 35 minutes. To test the loaves for “done-ness,” tap them with your finger; fully baked loaves will sound slightly hollow.
- After about 15 minutes turn the loaves out of their pans and allow to cool on a rack for about an hour.
- If baking in advance, allow the loaves to cool completely, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. To serve, thaw unwrapped for about a half hour, then warm in a 300˚F oven for about 15 minutes.