I wanted to make something different for this event. I had seen this bread last year in Gourmet Magazine and decided now was the time to make it. It reminds me of an Epi, but it is a cornstalk rather than a wheat stalk and includes some cornmeal. The bread is supposed to resemble a cornstalk, where each roll, or “ear of corn” is torn off the stalk and eaten as you would a roll.
As I mentioned in my Buttermilk Cornbread at the Mill post, I got some delicious freshly ground cornmeal when I visited the beautiful Old Mill at the Berry College Campus in Rome, Georgia. I’ve been looking for opportunities to use this cornmeal in breads other than cornbread.
Crusty Cornstalk Rolls
Makes: About 1 dozen rolls
Source: Gourmet Magazine, February 2009 Issue
These rolls have the hearty exterior of a French baguette, plus a yeasty, slightly chewy interior.
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115 degrees F), divided
1 teaspoon mild honey or sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for kneading and dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons stone-ground yellow cornmeal, divided
Stir together yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, and honey in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)
Mix flour, salt, 1/2 cup cornmeal, and remaining cup warm water into yeast mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms.
Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead, dusting surface and your hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is elastic and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes.
Form dough into a ball. Put dough in an oiled large bowl and turn to coat.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Punch down dough (do not knead).
Fold into thirds like a letter (dough will be soft),
Then gently roll into a 12-inch-long log with lightly floured hands.
Sprinkle a large baking sheet evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons cornmeal and put dough diagonally in center. Alternating sides, make 3-inch-long diagonal cuts, about 1 1/2 inches apart, into sides of log using kitchen shears (ends of cuts should not touch; maintain a center “stalk”).
Gently pull apart cuts to stretch dough, forming rolls that are separate (about 1 1/2 inches apart) but connected to the stalk.
Cover with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap). Let it rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in the middle and a baking stone if using. Spray rolls with water, then bake, spraying into oven 3 times in the first 5 minutes of baking (to help form a crust), until golden, about 20 minutes.
Transfer rolls to a rack and cool at least 20 minutes.
Rolls are best the day they are made, but whole baked stalk can be frozen (cool completely, then wrap well) 1 month. Thaw, then reheat on a baking sheet in a 350 degrees oven until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes.
Perfect bread for harvest time don’t you think?
I only made one stalk as the directions instructed, but if I make these rolls again, I will probably cut the dough into two pieces and make two stalks rather than one. First of all, I think it would look more like a stalk and secondly, it would be easier to handle. This stalk is a little heavy in the middle and could break really easily. With that said, this was a fun and not too complicated loaf to make and I enjoyed it.
Be sure to check out Zorra’s site for the roundup of breads submitted for World Bread Day. Click on graphic below to get to her site.