Yeast-raised Cornbread

Yeast-raised Cornbread Recipe

I decided if I was going to feature a cornbread recipe on this site, it needed to be two things - delicious and unique. Good enough to get people to try something beyond their traditional cornbread recipes, good enough to get them to put down the "Jiffy" mix. It took a while for inspiration to strike - years in fact. But strike it did, in an antique shop in central California. I was flipping through a dusty, old natural foods cookbook and spotted a recipe for a yeast-raised cornbread, one could tell at a glance the recipe itself wasn't any good, but the idea sounded full of potential.

Many cornbreads are quickbreads, they use baking soda and/or baking powder and have a tender, crumbly texture. Yeast-leavened corn bread is more bready and less muffin-like in texture. My version is heavily flecked with kernels of bright yellow corn, has plenty of cornmeal in the dough itself, and is generously spiked with chives. You can bake it in free form shapes, in two standard loaf pans, or as individual rolls like I did here. It's a cornbread that was born to be in stuffings or dunked in hearty soups - it has the structure for it, and isn't inclined to go to mush.

A small reminder, please read the recipe through before committing to it, you will definitely be shifting into baking mode - with all the kneading, rising, and shaping that goes along with it. Make sure you have a nice block of time and aren't feeling rushed - I can tell you from experience sweet-talking the dough when you are pinched for time doesn't make it rise any faster.

corn bread recipe

I'd like to see if the (unbaked) dough freezes well, I forgot to test that aspect this time around, but will report back and update the post at a later date. I also imagine marrying this corn bread recipe and my favorite Peter Reinhart pizza dough would result in a knock-out cornmeal pizza dough - on my ever growing list of things to try.

Let me know what you think overall. Yes? No? Don't mess with a good thing?

Links:
The Kitchn bakes up a batch of this cornbread loaf-style

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Yeast-raised Cornbread Recipe

I call for white whole wheat flour but feel free to substitute bread flour or all-purpose flour - you'll have equally tasty results. I also instruct you to let the dough rise in a warm place - it's not very eco of me, but if it is particularly chilly in my kitchen I will leave the oven on and place the bowl on top to keep it nice and happy.

4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup organic cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grained sea salt
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (~105 degrees)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
3 extra-large eggs, room temperature
2 cups of fresh or frozen corn, if frozen defrosted to room temp
2/3 cup chopped chives

Cornmeal and olive oil for preparing loaf pans or muffin tins

This recipe yields two standard loaves of cornbread OR 1 1/2 dozen standard-sized muffins. Prepare your pans by rubbing them generously with olive oil, dust with cornmeal, then tap out any extra. Set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour cornmeal and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a Kitchen-Aid type mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add about 2/3 of the flour/cornmeal mixture. Now add the olive oil, honey, just TWO of the eggs, corn, chives and begin to mix with the dough hook attachment at low speed. As the dough is starting to come together mixing begin adding more of the flour/cornmeal mixture a bit at a time, letting it incorporate along the way - you might not need to use all of it. Keep adding until you achieve a dough that is tacky. It should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn't come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, add a teaspoon or two of water.

Dial up the speed a bit to medium, and keep mixing for about seven minutes. Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop, knead a few times, gather the dough into a ball and rub with a bit of olive oil. Place in a large, greased (olive oil) bowl, cover with a kitchen towl or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.

Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto the countertop. To make the rolls you see in the photo up above, start by cutting the dough into thirds - three big wedges. Pat each third into a square shape and cut each into six pieces - you will end up with 18 equal size pieces. Without over-handling, shape each piece into a ball and place the muffin tins. Let the rolls rise in a warm spot until roughly doubled - another hour. Alternately, if you want to bake two loaves, cut the dough into two equal pieces, shape and place in prepared pans. I imagine, you can also bake this dough freeform if you like.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Just before baking whisk the remaining egg and brush on the dough, sprinkle with cornmeal. Bake the rolls for 18-20 minutes on the middle rack, or until rolls are golden. If you are baking loaves it will take significantly longer. Turn out onto cooling racks. Serve slathered with salted honey-butter.

Makes two loaves or 1 1/2 dozen rolls.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Comments

  • This looks great. FYI the Liberty Cafe Bakery in Bernal Heights makes a yeasted cornbread every Wednesday. I was seriously addicted for a while. I'll have to make this one and then compare--the thing with the Liberty's loaf is that it gets dry fast.

    amy
  • Oh yum. I think I would definitely like these better than regular cornbread! I just made non-yeast cornbread last weekend, but I am a recent breadmaking convert and this is definitely next on my list!

    sugarlaw
  • One word - WOW!!!! This looks fabulous. My husband and I both love corn bread, so this is going to be on my list of things to try - as soon as the craziness of the holidays is over. I would love to know how this works as a pizza dough, if you get to try it out. A little cumin spiced black beans, a little diced tomato, a touch of jalepeno for the "heat" lovers, and a sprinkling of some extra sharp cheddar cheese....hmmm. I'm getting hungry.

    Nancy
  • It would take something this inspiring to abandon my favorite cornbread recipe - but I'll definitely give it a go. does anyone know where i can find white whole wheat flour in the east bay? Berkeley Bowl doesn't have it.

    Ariane
  • This sounds amazing - how easy do you think it would be to veganize? My two favorite bread recipes are vegan cornbread (I use the recipe on the post punk kitchen website) and no knead bread - this combines the beauty of the two and I'm dying to try it. Thanks for posting!

    monica
  • one way to get dough to rise faster is to boil a bunch of water in a large pot, turn off the heat, put a rack or mesh over the top of the pot and your dough in a bowl on top of that rack. then cover the whole shebang with a big cup towel.

    claire
  • Another trick for creating a nice environment for bread-rising in a cold kitchen: microwave a cup of water for about a minute or until the inside of the microwave gets nice and steamy, then quickly move the water to the side and put the dough in the microwave and close the door. Don't turn on the microwave while the dough is in there, just let it sit in the nice warm steamy little room. I've had good luck with this little trick.

    mary
  • Wow. That is amazing. . . I simply must try this one, and soon! My family tends to eat a lot of thick soups around this time of year, and along with that always comes the cornbread! (I'm always wanting to make it from scratch) Never heard of yeast-risen dough though. I'm sure this would stand up very well to a good lentil soup or abondigas! One note though. . . my family doesn't have a mixer or food processor. (We do have a hand mixer with a bread hook. . .) Would it be possible to do this by hand or in a breadmaking machine?

    Euphreana
  • This sounds like the perfect recipe for stuffing - moistness of bread, crumbliness of cornmeal so that it both absorbs flavor and provides texture. Every year I debate between cornbread and bread stuffing - this year - problem solved! Thanks!

    greensgal
  • I love corn bread and have been on the hunt for a recipe I can fall in love with for years. I'm going to have to give yours a try, looks like it has the potential to win my heart. A trick one of my Chef's taught me for rising dough is to fill a big pot of water set it on the stove and let it boil away, filling the air with steam. Then the moisture and heat in the air will let encourage any dough placed near by to grow big and strong.

    Cheyanne
  • To create a perfect haven for rising dough of any kind, preheat the oven for 1 minute (ovens may vary, so check this on yours), turn the oven off, turn the light on and place the dough inside. Just the heat from the light will be enough to keep the temperature perfect for rising dough.

    Gin
  • What a terrific looking recipe. I love good cornbread with a nice crust and this totally fills that need. Sometime I will give this a try; the one thing I do love about a good cornbread is how quick it is to whip out half a dozen ingredients and toss it together.

    Kate
  • Whoops!. I didn't see the "brush with egg" part. You could actually make a really diluted egg wash and spray the egg on, though. Coffee or tea egg wash? Why not? Lavender tea. Coffee brewed with cinnamon. Et cetera, ad infinitum... Play with your food.

    John J. Goddard
  • Might want to try misting these with water just before popping them into the oven. That'll give them a nice crunchy crust. But why stop at water? Mist them with tea. Or coffee. Perhaps if the coffee, tea or water has been sweetened, that crust might take on a candied characteristic.

    John J. Goddard
  • I love the idea of serving these with salty, honey butter! (I'm with Amanda, the butter on the picture really sells them) Have you tried freezing these Heidi? The rolls sound the perfect thing for keeping in the freezer to take to work with a flask of homemade soup.

    Sophie
  • Oh, these look lovely! I grew up on Kentucky cornbread, that's almost all cornmeal and not sweet. That's a good thing for me because I can't have gluten. I'm going to give this a try substituting my gluten free flour mix and see how it goes. If it works the effort will be so worth it.

    BariSaxy
  • Okay - they definately do look like muffins... despite all that I adore corn bread, or anything else you can dunk into soups or mop up a home made gravy! I really like the yeasted idea and will definately be adding this to my 'to try' list. Thanks Heidi!

    Tim
  • Being raised around southern home cooking and hating most of it (I know, I'm the only one) I can honestly say this looks great. I'm going to try it right away - too bad it won't be for thanksgiving. My Grandmother decided the whole family is eating out, I almost cried!

    James
  • oooh I am so going to volunteer to bring bread to thanksgiving dinner.

    marissa
  • I love cornbread! I'll have to give this one a try when I've got some time on my hands. But is it kind of sad that it was the melting butter in the photo that really hooked me?

    Amanda
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