Mark’s mom just lent me her copy of “Beard on Bread” and I’m very happy about it. I worked my way through this sweet little book in college and still remember how each recipe turned out–always earthy, flavorful and broadly appealing. Nothing too adventurous or painstaking. I love you, James Beard.
I’m going to make one of my favorites right now.
(From Beard on Bread by James Beard)
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups warm water (100-115 degrees, approximately)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, approximately
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl and let proof for five minutes. Combine the remaining water, butter, molasses, and salt in a saucepan and heat to lukewarm. Stir into the yeast mixture. Add the cornmeal and mix well. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, and beat vigorously; the dough will be sticky and hard to work. Turn out on a lightly floured board. Using a baker’s scraper or a large spatula, scrape under the flour on the board and fold the dough over to incorporate the flour. Repeat this process until you can knead with your hands, using only enough additional flour to make a smooth dough that is springy to touch; the stickiness will not be completely eliminated. Shape into a ball, put in a buttered bowl, and turn to coat the surface with the fat. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk.
Punch the dough down, Shape into one loaf, to fit a 10-inch loaf pan, or divide into two pieces and shape to fit two 8 x 4 x 2-inch loaf tins. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 10 minutes, then lower he temperature to 350 degrees and bake for about 35 minutes more, or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped with the knuckles on top and bottom. Cool on racks.