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Cornmeal Yeast Bread

ingredients

makes 2 loaves
450 ml (1/4 pt) water
3 tbsp (1 1/2 oz) 40 g butter
2 tsp salt
150 g (5 oz) cornmeal
1 tbsp dry yeast
4 tbsp (60 ml) water
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup (8 fl oz) 250 ml milk
3 1/2 cup (1 lb) 450 g plain flour

method

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water, butter and salt to the boil. Add the cornmeal and stir continuously as the meal absorbs the water and becomes a thick paste. Continue cooking, stirring all the while, for 1 minute. Remove the cornmeal from the heat and put it in a large mixing bowl to cool.

2. After the cornmeal has cooled for a few minutes, dissolve the yeast and sugar in 60 ml/4 tbsp water that is between 38-46°C (100°- 115°f)

3. While the yeast is fermenting, mix milk into cornmeal mixture. Work it in with your hands, checking for any lumps and working them out with your fingertips. After the yeast has developed a head of foam, add it to the cornmeal and stir it in. Add the flour, 100 g/4 oz at a time, stirring well.

4. After you've added the third amount, begin kneading it with your hands. When the dough is stiff enough to pull away from the side of the bowl, turn it onto a floured board and continue kneading at least 5 minutes, until the dough is very elastic and not sticky.

5. Butter a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover with a clean towel. Set the dough in a warm, draught-free place until it doubles in bulk, 1–1 1/2 hours. Knock back the dough and divide it in half. Butter two 23 X 12.5-cm/9 X 5-in loaf tins. Roughly shape the dough into two loaf shapes and pat into place in the tins. Again, cover the dough and put it in a warm, draught-free place until it has doubled in bulk.

6. Bake for 10 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 220°C (425°F) Gas Mark 7, then lower oven temperature to 180°C (350°F) Gas Mark 4. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until bread is browned and sounds hollow when tapped. You may remove the loaves from the tins and put them back in the oven for a few minutes to crisp the crust.

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