When Larry and I first got married, his sister in law was always making this fantastic bread that I had never heard of before. I grew up in a family with a couple generations of breads makers before me – both my Mom and her Mom baked their own bread for long stretches of time, so making yeast breads was never an intimidating idea to me. But this bread was better than anything I had ever had before, and I was so glad when my new sister in law gave me the recipe. I have never changed one single thing about it – it was perfect from the first time I made it. Following a recipe without any tweaking at all is not something I do very often and to do it for over 30 years – well you know it has to be pretty good.
In moving recipes over here from my old blog, I am revamping most of them, in many cases to eliminate the boring step by step photos. Not this one though. Not everyone grew up in bread baking families, and I have always gotten lots of grateful comments and emails about the detailed instructions and photos in this post. If you are a novice bread baker, there is no better recipe to cut your teeth on, because in addition to having a fantastic flavor, this bread is fool-proof. It comes together quickly and easily, raises nice and high and bakes up perfectly. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask – I will be more than happy to help if I can.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup of cornmeal [whole grain preferably]
2 packets of instant yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt In a smaller bowl combine
2 cups hot water
1/2 cup dark molasses
5 tablespoons melted butterMix the wet ingredients into the dryAnd whisk briskly for about 2 minutesAdd 2 more cups flour, one at a time, combining well after each one. I like to use a rubber spatula for this because I think it is more efficient.It will be fairly sticky still Generously flour your kneading surface with 1/4 cup all purpose flour, and begin kneading. For some illustrative shots of kneading, go here [still on the old blog, but leaving for now till I get that one updated too - sorry 'bout the quality of those long-ago photos!]. When the first 1/4 cup is thoroughly incorporated, add another 1/4, incorporate completely and then another 1/4 cup.
About 3/4 of a cup of flour has been kneaded into the dough at this point. It isn’t quite there yet though.Another 1/4 cup flour and a couple more minutes kneading and it should look like this – a little drier and smoother – just right. Total kneading time is about 6 or 7 minutes. Oil a bowl and place the dough in it, turning a few time to coat all the surfaces and cover with a piece of plastic wrap or small towel, and place bowl in a fairly warm spot. I have a gas stove with a pilot light, so that is where I always raise my breads.This is one of the fastest rising breads I have ever made – usually it is doubled in size in about an hour to 90 minutes. Turn the dough back out onto the counter [you can dust it with a bit of flour if you like, but it doesn't usually stick even without] and knead for a couple minutes until you have a nice uniform ball again. Cut it into two equal pieces.Then shape into loaves. Place the half dough on the counter with the cut side up and form into an elongated oval. Fold the side farthest from you toward yourself and press along the edges to seal. Then turn it around and again pull the side farthest from you into the middle and press down. Bring the ends in until they meet in the middle. Using your fingers, kind of pinch all of the edges together and roll gently to smooth it all out. Put in a well greased bread pan and press firmly all over the top to work the dough into an even layer in the pan.Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter [you can skip this step if you like – doing this will raise the calorie count of course.Return loaves to a warm spot and allow to rise until the dough is just above the top of the pan. It is going to raise a bit more as it bakes. Bake at 350º for about 45 minutes, until the top is very brown and the loaves sound hollow when you thump them.Remove from pans immediately and cool on a rack for as long as you can stand it and then cut into slices to serve.It is so good – just slightly sweet from the molasses, with a hearty texture from the cornmeal. It makes a fantastic sandwich with ham, sharp cheddar and a nice spicy mustard. Or just enjoy it with a bit of butter if you like.