Recently, I posted an adapted version of Alexandra Stafford’s No-Knead Peasant Bread. I was introduced to the basic recipe as part of Food 52’s Genius recipe collection. My adaptation produces a single loaf of bread.
Since my original post, I’ve purchased Alexandra Stafford’s cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs. It’s full of creative suggestions, not only for variations of the basic recipe, but also for ways to use the bread. It’s been a long while since I’ve been this excited about a new cookbook.
But it’s a busy weekend, and I wasn’t ready to start testing new recipes. Besides, I didn’t have the kalamata olives for the bread I really wanted to try, and I wasn’t willing to fight holiday traffic to head to the store.
On a whim, I replaced a half cup of the flour in the recipe with corn meal, and the best toast ever was created. It’s crispy and crunchy and flavorful, and has become an instant staple in our kitchen. The basic recipe with the corn meal variation follows.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
OR for corn meal bread: 1 1/2 cups AP flour and 1/2 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/8 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
Softened butter, for greasing
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. Add the water. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the water is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk.
3. Preheat oven to 425° F. Grease a 1-quart oven-safe bowl, like Pyrex, with softened butter—be generous. Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball.
4. Use the forks to lift the dough into a prepared bowl. If the dough is too wet to transfer with forks, lightly grease your hands with butter or oil, then transfer to a bowl. Do not cover the bowl. Let the dough rise on the countertop near the oven (or another warm, draft-free spot) for 10 to 20 minutes, until the top of the dough just crowns the rim of the bowl.
5 Transfer the bowl to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375° F and bake for 20 minutes more, until evenly golden all around. Remove the bowl from the oven and turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack. Let the loaf cool for 15 minutes before cutting.