morri001_500x500For our “Quarantine Cooking” series, UPF acquisitions editor Meredith Morris-Babb made Gary’s Corn Herb Loaf from Cross Creek Kitchens: Seasonal Recipes and Reflections.

Meredith’s comments:

I love making bread; don’ t know why, it’s just really satisfying for me. I searched older UPF cookbooks for bread recipes and came across “Gary’s Corn Herb Loaf” from Cross Creek Kitchens, a book we reissued a few years back written by two of the docents at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’s home, Cross Creek. They baked this in a wood fire stove; I did not.

I was intrigued by this one because I have wondered about adding cornmeal to a bread recipe but never found one that looked like it would be delicious. Adding garlic? Brilliant, so I jumped in.

I prefer white whole wheat to full whole wheat because it gives bread a better, lighter crumb. With bread flour missing from the shelves (where were you bread makers four weeks ago?), I relied on all-purpose flour with added vital wheat gluten. This is a trick I learned from a website—add one teaspoon VWG to one cup all-purpose flour to get the same protein level as a bread flour. This helps develop the gluten properly and gives the bread its structure.

Gary’s Corn Herb Loaf

Makes 4 loaves

  • 4 cups unbleached white flour
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 packages yeast
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, or 2 tsp. dried
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil, or 1 tsp. dried
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 egg whites
  1. In a large bowl, sift flours together and stir in cornmeal. Combine 1½ cups with sugar, salt, yeast, and herbs.
  2. In a small bowl, mix hot water, melted butter, and garlic. Stir into dry ingredients. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat 2 minutes. Add 1½ cups flour mixture; beat at high speed 2 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out on floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
  3. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a clean towel, and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Punch dough down. Knead 1 minute. Allow to rise again for 15 minutes. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Form into oblong loaves and place on a greased cookie sheet. Slash tops of loaves. Cover and let rise one hour. Brush tops with egg whites.
  4. Bake at 375° for 30 to 35 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when thumped. Cool on wire rack.

Meredith’s verdict:

Really nice, nutty loaves with decent structure. I would bake these a bit longer next time, and I will make this again. The bread was nutty and aromatic. Because of the corn taste and smell it reminded me of spoonbread form my youth, and the bread was quite soft and satisfying. My neighbor Laura, who lent me her Shop-Vac, got the other loaf!

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The dough was quite smooth and shiny even with the grainy cornmeal.
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And it rose, or “proved,” really well—this is the 6-qt bowl. The garlic aroma was divine!
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Second prove went well, too—I divided the recipe in half for only two loaves.

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