Corny Semolina Sticks
I wanted to make a lean yeast bread with some of the wonderful stoneground cornmeal from Ridgecut Gristmills that I posted about here. I decided on baguettes, since I hadn't used the fancy perforated pan that I bought from the King Arthur store in a while.
I loosely followed Reinhart's recipe for Pane Sicialiano, which he says takes 3 days, but I was able to compress it into 2. You start with a pâte fermentée, which is really just a lump of French bread dough. I used 1 1/2 cups of stoneground cornmeal and poured boiling water over it and let it sit overnight. (I don't really know if this did anything. I didn't introduce any yeast or malt for enzymes. Thoughts?)
Added about 1.5 c of bread flour, 1.5 c. semolina, 1 T. olive oil, 1 t. honey, and 1/2 t. instant yeast, and enough water to make a fairly slack dough. Kneaded a bit, let it rise a couple times, shaped, put it in the fridge for about 6 hours, took it out, let it warm and proof about 2.5 hours, then baked at 450 in a steamy oven. I rolled one of the loaves in cornmeal after shaping, to see if I'd like the crunch on the outside (yup, it's nice).
These were a bit of a departure for me, as I rarely bake with so much white flour, but I wanted the corn flavor to really shine through. And did it! Wow, a lot of corniness going on here. I think the long, slow fermentation also gives these extra flavor. Slightly sweet, a bit nutty even, with a creamy mouthfeel punctuated by firm nubbins of corn. At first bite, it reminds of a normal pan cornbread, but with a more satisfying chewiness.
I'd mark it as a successful experiment. Highly recommended if you like corn flavor. (The rest of the dough will be pizza tonight!)