(recipe, James Beard)
This makes a sweet, moist loaf.
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water (100 to 115 degrees, approximately)
- 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 cup warm milk
- 2 to 3 tsp. salt
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 4 to 4½ cups all-purpose flour (preferably unbleached)
- Pour the cornmeal into the boiling water with the salt and stir vigorously until it cooks thick (about 4 minutes). Place it in a large mixing bowl to cool. Proof the yeast with the granulated sugar in the water, then pour into the mixing bowl with the cooled cornmeal mixture. Mix well. Add the warm milk, salt, brown sugar, and flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring very well after each addition of flour.
- When the mixture is well blended and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, turn out on a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 to 12 minutes, adding more flour as needed. Butter a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with the butter on all sides. Cover and set in a warm, draft-free place to double in bulk.
- Punch the dough down and turn out on a lightly floured board. Cut in half, shape into two loaves, and let rest while you butter two 9-by-5-by-3-inch tins. Place the dough in the tins, cover, and let rise again until almost doubled in bulk, or just level with the tops of the baking tins. Bake in a preheated 425 degrees oven for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 20 to 25 minutes, until the bread is nicely browned and sounds hollow when removed from the tins and rapped with the knuckles on top and bottom. Place the loaves, without tins, on the oven rack for a few minutes, to crisp the crust. Cool on racks before slicing.