The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Peter Reinhart's Corn Bread

JimmyK's picture

Peter Reinhart's Corn Bread

Hi Everyone, 

Over the weekend I made the Corn Bread from the Bread Baker's Apprentice.  In spite of using T.Joe's precooked Organic Polenta instead of the coarse grind cornmeal, the result was still excellent with our guests.  It took two days to make, with soaking the polenta which I put in the blender to mix with the buttermilk and then continued with the rest of the recipe on Saturday.  Next time, I think I'll search out coarse grind cornmeal to see if there is a difference.   I'd like to hear if anyone has used coarse cornmeal in this recipe.  Thanks..JimmyK

Matt H's picture
Matt H

I am a huge fan of Reinhart's, owning many of his cookbooks and having attended one of his day-long classes.

That said, I really think his bluster about his cornbread ("best I've ever had or eaten") is way off-base. I made it exactly according to directions, and didn't really like it at all. It was too gooey, to sour, too sweet. Maybe I'm just suffering from "frame error" because I have very specific ideas about what cornbread should taste like. (I'm a northeasterner, so it should be yellow and slightly sweet. Tart? Uber-rich? Not so much.)

I suppose if I were to judge it in the category of "some kind of sweet, tangy, lumpy, baked corn pudding-y thing" I would give it 5 stars.

Oh, and I use VERY good fresh-ground whole ground corn meal from Gristcut Mills in California. In fact, I really need to stock up!

Lastly, if the polenta is pre-cooked, you probably don't need to soak it at all. The soaking is for softening the dry grain.

JimmyK's picture

I guess my precooked Polenta may have been a good ingredient after all.  We had none of the tastes or textures you mentioned.  Actually it looked like the picture in his book.  Why don't you try it with the precooked Polenta from TJ's?   Maybe you're in for a surprise.  I followed the directions to the letter except for the Polenta which I put in the blender with the Buttermilk because it was too firm.   

sam's picture

Try making a lean version of cornbread.   Find some corn flour and white flour, water, salt, and either SD culture or bakers yeast.   I did a few 25% corn flour, 75% white breads a few months ago...  no sugar, milk, eggs, etc.   Although I milled my own corn flour, I assume it would be fine using store-bought corn flour.   For me, it tasted fascinating, like Corn-On-A-Cob in a lean bread form.   Tastes great with a little butter, with dinner.


whosinthekitchen's picture

...with PR's cornbread.  I am a southern gal raised where the cornbread was literally thrown together in the last bit of meal prep... the cornbread was mixed in a bowl and pured into a HOT HOT iron skillet, shoved into a hot, hot oven when my grandfather was spotted closing the gate on the cow pasture hauling the evenin's fresh milk pails up to the house.  The gate had a great old cow bell in case my grandmother was busy elsewhere.  Cornbread, fresh, hot, crusty on the bottom was served almost every night.  She used yellow coarse ground meal from our own corn.  I can almost reproduce the same.  I use the coarse ground meal by GOYA when I can not get SC Lakewood products.  2 days to make cornbread?  My grandmother would think Peter R daft.  I am a Perter R fan and use many of his recipes from BBA... this just isn't one of them.

Antilope's picture

Peter Reinhart's Corn Bread

I made Peter Reinhart's Corn Bread recipe from the Bread Baker's Apprentice today. My family and I really liked it. The recipe makes a dense, moist corn bread. It's well worth the effort.

One caution, you really need an instant read thermometer for this recipe. Make sure all of the corn bread interior is baked to at least 185-F, as recommended in the book. Some people have reported the recipe came out gummy. This is probably from not cooking to the suggested temperature. I baked mine to 185-F and the corn bread was dense, moist and flavorful. I baked the corn bread in a greased (with bacon drippings), pre-heated 10-inch cast iron skillet.

Some members of my family did suggest leaving out the bacon and bacon drippings next time. Others really liked the bacon flavor, so that part is a matter of taste. I liked the addition of bacon and bacon drippings. I will be making this recipe again soon.

Here's the Baker's Percentage for the recipe:


Baker's Percentage Formula
BBA Corn Bread - %

All-purpose flour - 57.1%
Cornmeal - 42.9%
Baking powder - 5.44%
Baking soda - 0.36%
Salt - 1.8%
Buttermilk - 114%
Sugar - 14.3%
Brown sugar - 14.3%
Eggs - 35.7%
Honey - 10.7%
Butter - 7.1%
Bacon - 51.1%
Corn - 114%
Bacon fat - 7.1%
Total - 475.9%


link to recipe