113 g water
113 g bread flour ( I used the very strong flour again for this part)
1/16th tsp of active dried instant yeast aka a pinch of yeast!
Left overnight at room temperature for 12 hours
In the morning I soaked some 113 grams organic maize meal in 192 grams of water and left it for about quarter of an hour while I had a cup of tea and some brekkie and rattled around with some white leaven that I was using for some other breads.
Then I quickly weighed out another 226 grams of flour, using half and half strong and very strong which seems to give me a good balance at the moment. Added 8.5 grams fine sea salt and 3/4 tsp of active dried yeast to the flour and then mixed it up with the poolish using my trusty danish dough whisk. Then I remembered the slug of olive oil so I put that in too. I gave it a good mix with my hands and after about five minutes it felt supple and evenly mixed so I left it in a clean lightly oiled bowl to do its own thing.
A fold after 45 minutes and then shaped into a rough boule after another 45 minutes, left to relax on the bench for 20 minutes, then shaped it into a batard and put to prove in a floured couche cloth.
Why did I want a smooth oval shape?
Well I thought I should boldly venture into stencil world having been dead impressed by SteveB‘s cornbread. Never tried one of those before – I chose something rather over- ambitious but I’ve had a go. It’s harder than it looks figuring out what to do with it when you’ve made it. Another time I would go for a simpler stencil and think really hard about where the slashes are going to go – design is not my strong point!
After an hour the loaf had almost doubled so I could not put it off any longer. On the plus side I remembered to move the dough onto the baking tray before I started the stencil part! Then I picked up my flimsy stencil patted it down onto the dough, dusted flour all over it. Easy I thought, nothing to it. Then I lifted the edge of the stencil and it
S T U C K
well of course it did, flimsy paper, sticky dough, what was I thinking? Not about what I was doing that’s for sure!
Somehow I got it off without using my teeth, made approximate slashes to pretend they were leaves and hastily threw it in the oven. Balled up the remains of my sad little ripped up stencil and thought that was a lot of cutting out for something that gets thrown away but onwards…..
Baked at 220 C for 30 minutes with steam. Let the steam out after half an hour and reduced the temperature to 190 C as I didn’t want the bread to go any darker.
And this is what came out! I hadn’t planned for the great big grigne I got – when I want ones like that do I get them? No I don’t. Did I want this one? Not particularly, but time to stop moaning and show you the rest of the pictures.
You can see both sides of the loaf in these shots but what you can’t see (and you will have to take my word for) is that this was a great eating loaf, in fact B came home and ate three quarters of it, sandwich after sandwich. It had a beautifully crisp and light crust, a moist and soft crumb and the corn meal gave it that happy photogenic quality of a lovely loaf. What more could I ask for apart from artistic talent?
Would I make this one again? Yes definitely, only maybe not bother with the stencil……
Corned beef and cucumber and mustard on corn bread was B’s sandwich of the day by the way. He ate two of those and finished off with cheese and cucumber when he ran out of corned beef.
- Use fine corn meal, if you are British like me we call it maize meal. Whatever you do don’t use cornflour!
- Don’t skip the rest on the bench stage. It really helps the dough relax and makes it easier to shape.
- Remember to let the steam out of the oven part way through the bake. Just opening the door for about 20 seconds should do the trick that way you get a nice crisp crust.
- Finally I cooked mine a lot cooler than the book, go with your oven, you know it best!
- We won’t discuss stencilling!
Visit Mellow Bakers and see what everyone else is up to this month!