Paul, July 10, 2009
This is recipe #10 (1/4 of the way there! [almost]) in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.
By now we know the drill: look up the recipe, translate the ounce weights to grams for better accuracy and get all our ingredients set up for the Mis en Place. So let’s get this show going.
Wait!! Before we get going, there’s the overnight soak we need to attend to. So our coarse (palenta style) cornmeal gets a bath of buttermilk and left on the counter until next day. Straight forward to not need photos, right? Good, cause I didn’t get any.
So one full sleep later…
The ubiquitous Mis en Place. Althought there are a fair number of ingredients here, the process is really simple.
WAIT!! Hold on, we’re already ahead of ourselves. A step we did before getting all the ingredients ready and measured was to cook up our bacon, about 15-20 at 375ºF on a parchment covered baking sheet. Book says use two, but there was plenty of spare space on one sheet. I even used 10 ounces of bacon to not leave one lonely slice in the package (and get in deep doodoo for it too)
So out of the oven it came, the drippings saved and the bacon placed on towels to soak up grease.
Issue: I didn’t know until later but we had thick sliced bacon. Seems they should have cooked longer than the suggested 15-20. They were cooked, just not totally crispy. Oh well.
OK, let’s carry on…
What we’ll be making here is basically a batter poured into a pan. No kneading, proofing or yeat building required. Told you it was easy!
Step 1: mix dry ingredients together.
Flour, salt, baking soda & powder. Add sugar and brown sugar. Stir.
Did I mention this was easy?
Mix honey into melted butter; put butter mix into eggs; put egg mix into cornmeal mush; put cornmeal mush into dry ingredients. Stir until well mixed.
Repeat after me: “easy!”
Add corn to batter and mix until well incorporated.
Pour bacon fat into 10″ pan (I’m using a 10″ cake pan here) and place in preheated 350º oven 5-7 minutes until “very very hot”.
While that’s doing that, bust up your bacon into chunky bits. Then take out your very hot pan a la bacon fat and swirl it about to coat the sides with bacon grease.
Mmmmmm bacon grease…
Careful, this really is hot. Note tile on counter.
Pour your batter into the very hot pan of very hot bacon grease. The book says to srea the batter to the sides with a spatula. Mine was wet enough to not need coaching at all. Hmmmm wonder why it’s not as thick as suggested?
Spread bacon chunks all over the top. Hint, do it by hand, sprinkling right from the bowl didn’t dread the chunks of bacomy goodness evenly.
Then push the bacon chunks into the batter a little. I suppose to make it harder for bacon thieves to get hold of them.
This puppy is now ready to go into the oven for about 30 minutes at 350º
Tic toc tic toc…
Brrrring! 30 Minutes are up, let’s check it.
Nuh-uh. This is still rather puddly in the middle. Says the book: 30 minutes, depending on the pan. Well, obviously another pan issue. SO back it goes for 10 more minutes…
A little more solid but the toothpick test says it’s still wet in the middle. Back for another 10.
Then another five.
Then five more.
And five more again. Geepers, will this bread ever reach 185ºC inside? My answwer, after adding 25 minutes more to the original 30, was “Nope.” 172 0r so and that was good enough . Besides, supper was getting started and I had to get out of the way.
So the bread came out, had a nice colour to it too. Let it cool while dinner was made. Then served up a couple wedges with dinner.
Verdict: Quite nice. Sadly, not the best cornbread, not as good as “Grandma Pack’s” I was told, but still quite nice. I never had Granma Pack’s cornbread but I presume it was very good. Ca we get that recipe? I asked
Got a Ouija board? Punkin replies.
Hmmm, I thought, munching the very nice corn bread… That would be a cool book: Recipes from the Dead; a collection of warmly remembered recipes, culled from the afterlife.
OK, enough silly, here’s the Show Stopper:
Next up in the Challenge: