Tired and corn-y

This is not summer, I am telling you. Today is supposed to be the longest day of the year, and you would expect a little bit of sunshine, but its grey and cold and it looks like its gonna rain any second.

Have tickets to go and see a play at the Globe tonight, but I am so knackered that I’ve decided to stay at home instead. End of the week and my head feels like its going to explode, not the best of moods to be sitting out in the cold, trying to take in the greatest of all bards. But … it is good time to try out a new recipe – shall we?

I am craving sunshine and I’ve decided to add a bit of sunshine in my evening by making a corn loaf. Not a corn bread, not that sunny, buttery, crumbly American cornbread (although it does sound good just as I type it), but a white loaf, lavoured with corn meal and chillies.

I am making this recipe up as I go along, lets hope its gonna turn out okay.

Corn and Chilli Loaf

250 g start (100% hydration)
200 g water
100 g milk
370 g white flour
130 g fine corn meal
1 tsp salt
2 red chillies, chopped up thoroughly (mild variety)
55 g butter, room temperature
1 Tbsp honey

Combine starter, water, milk, flour and cornmeal and mix in KitchenAid for 6 minutes on speed 1. This can also be done by hand, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes. The dough will be quite soft and a little bit sticky.
Cover with a kitchen towel and leave for 20 minutes to autolise.
Add salt, chillies and honey, turn the mixer back on, mix for 1 minute on speed 2, add softened butter – in three lots, giving it time to incorporate in. Mix for further 2 minutes, until you get very soft golden dough, brioche-like texture. I am guessing this step can be done by hand too, kneading for 10 – 15 minutes after the autolise.
Ever since I got my wonderful KitchenAid, I hardly ever make my bread by hand, getting very lazy. It is a brilliant mixer and it gets a lot of use in my house – bread making, cake making, cream whisking, pasta making, sausage making (yes, really!), the possibilities are endless!! I am thinking about getting an ice-cream maker attachment, but I do wonder how often I would actually use it.

So, back to the bread – place the dough into an oiled bowl – I am using sunflower oil today, as I don’t want olive oil to affect the delicate flavour of corn in the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic (good old shower cap again, looks odd, but good for the environment, not that I am a tree hugger or anything) – do stretch and fold three times over the next hour and a half, at 30 minutes intervals.
I found that using “stretch and fold” method during first fermentation really improves the quality of my breads. The crumb and the shaping becomes much better, giving me much lighter and fluffier loaves.
To do “stretch and fold”, you can do it in a number of ways - I am sure there are more, try Googling it, I am sure you get hundreds of pages.
But the main two are either do it on a counter or directly in the bowl. If you are doing it on the counter, lightly flour the counter, pour your dough out, pick up side edges, stretch them out a bit and fold them on top of each other in the centre of the dough. Flip the dough over, turn 90 degrees and repeat the same stretch and fold. Return the dough back to the bowl.
I prefer doing my stretching and folding directly in the bowl – its much less messier. Pick up one side of the dough, stretch up, fold it over the main bulk of the dough. Turn the bowl 180 degrees and repeat the process. Pick up the dough with one hand, and flip it over in the bowl, repeat stretching and folding once again.

Three stretch and folds and the dough is still very VERY soft, literally sliding between my fingers, but after the last one its definitely has more tension in it. Leave it covered in the bowl for the next three to four hours, shape the dough into a boule and place in a floured banneton – I am using a round one, a nice round sunny shape.

I’ve got three bannetons, a present from Mr Ranty, and I use them all the time, I prefer rustic shaped loaves rather than tin shaped ones. I am not sure where Mr Ranty got my banneton from, but I have been thinking about getting a couple more and saw a few nice ones on “Bakery Bits” website. They have a few nice bits and pieces, which reminds me, I need to get me a new dough scraper, I’ve melted my last one in the dishwasher – oops …

Cover the banneton and place it in the fridge overnight. Take it out in the morning, leave it to come to room temperature for about 2 or 3 hours. Pre-heat your oven to 200C and bake for 40 minutes, rotating the loaf around half way through.

It came out looking really well, nice round and golden, cant wait to slice it up and see what it looks like inside.

Oooohhhh..... its so so good. Might be a tad bit low on salt, but very soft, buttery and very very tasty - its a keeper!!


  1. Chilly weather does call for more chiles. Chile de Arbol is always a fine choice.


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