The Fresh Loaf

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Advice for Italian-style corn bread

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Jellatine's picture
Jellatine

Advice for Italian-style corn bread

Hi there,

I've been working on this corn bread recipe but am having a hard time getting the results I want. The strange thing is, though, that I have gotten the result I wanted ONCE but can't figure out what I did differently that time a 'round. Any help or insight would be very appreciated!

55 % hard flour

11% AP

17% corn meal

17% corn flour

1.4 % instant yeast

1.4 % starter

1.4% salt

2.8 % olive oil

75 % water

So, right off the bat, it's clear to me that it's a high hydration dough, with corn flours, making it very wet. I'm getting a really dense, flat, unleavened-like texture that I do not prefer. I think what made it successful on that one attempt was getting it folded several times right away, shaped, and quickly into the fridge to final ferment overnight (this dough overproofs real fast, and I think that's the main reason it doesn't turn out).  I'm not putting them into a mould of any kind, just shaping into a batard.

When it does turn out, though, it's fluffy, with a crispy crust, and smells buttery. So good. I'm really confused (yay bread!) about why it worked so beautifully that one day (and almost a second) and am almost convinced that someone (my absent-minded self) toyed with the percentages while I wasn't looking.

Also, I need the dough to be able to withstand a long, cold fermentation, due to my production schedule.

Things I've tested for so far, with no luck:

Could it have to do with the amount of kneading/gluten development?

Could it need more folds?

Could it need a very brief bulk ferment?

Could it need less yeast (reduced to 1% to help it withstand the long refrigerated final ferment)?

Could it need a little more hard flour?

I'm of course willing to try any of the above again, if need be.

I'm pretty convinced it has more to do with technique than the ingredients, since it has been succesfull in the past. Just need to get it consistent.

Any idears?

Thanks a bunch!

Jellatine's picture
Jellatine

Oh, and I have gotten it to the point of being nice and fluffy before I shape, but it seems like if I wait till then to shape it, it's overproofed by the time i bake it the next morning. (It's almost a 24 hour ferment, all but an hour of that in the refrigerator).

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

  • Dropping it into the heated water?  Let soak, cool and then continue.  or...
  • How about delaying yeast?  Add the starter(sourdough?) to the dough recipe, add yeast when you want to raise it.
Jellatine's picture
Jellatine

Hi Mini- I have not yet tried the soaking technique, but would like to. As for the delayed yeast, that's something I've never heard of - sounds interedting. At what point would the dry yeast be incorporated? Could I not achieve the same effect by just reducing the yeast amount? 

Thanks for your help!

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

esp. since your yeast amount seems high more in line to a quick ferment of 2 to 3 total hrs. at 23°C.   Try 0.15% yeast in the beginning.   What is the "starter" in the recipe?  

If you try soaking, try just the corn meal first.   Change only one thing per bake.  :)

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

How long and how have you been mixing this dough? I suspect that it will need a fairly long mix at a fairly high speed to get the hard flour to show itself in all that water.  Mini's suggestion to presoak the corn (at least the corn meal) sounds right. And I might try a few iterations without the cold fermentation just to see if the texture improves without having to wait for the results. The corn flour should weaken the crumb so it may be very sensitive to overproofing and cold proofing should help control that. And you might benefit from cutting the oil in half and adding some solid fat instead of the other half of the oil.

Jellatine's picture
Jellatine

Hey Doc,

thanks for all the suggestiins! ive done a longer knead, but will try again (wih more strength too), and ive done a short ferment as a test and it did provide good results. Ill try again and see what I get!

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

If you are kneading by hand, then you will probably have to go to a whole bunch of stretch and fold steps to get the gluten development you are looking for (like 10 or more which at 10 min between will eat into your bulk fermentation time).

You might come at this from a different perspective: go with 100% strong flour and keep the 75% hydration, cut back on the yeast and give yourself enough time to do all the dough development you need.  This will make a basic ciabatta but will assure that you have the techniques for high hydration dough mastered before you start making it hard by adding the corn.  When you can make a good ciabatta (one that meets your expectations), then start substituting corn meal and corn flour for high gluten flour (maybe 5% total at each step) and see what you have to do to get it back under control.  Then take another step.  You need a solid baseline from which to depart and at the moment you are way out in no-man's land without a compass.