Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Corn Rye

Corn and rye make for one of my all-time favourite combinations, but this recipe has nothing to do with corn mash or bourbon.  It's just a really nice recipe for a sourdough rye, featuring a couple of ingredients that are quintessentially American:  corn and molasses.

I got the idea after picking up some beautiful stoneground corn meal from Dexter's Grist Mill in Sandwich, MA back in August when we were visiting Cape Cod.

Dexter's corn meal fig. a:  corn meal

This corn meal was excellent, but it was also much coarser than I was used to, and a little too coarse to make my corn bread with.  (Read:  rustic!).  I had the idea of using it in a sourdough mixture so that the corn meal and its kernels would have the time to go through a slow fermentation process, retaining their size and their colour, but becoming more pleasantly edible.  I've always loved the combination of corn and rye, and bringing them together with molasses in a riff on my Danish sourdough rye made a lot of sense to me.

The results have been fantastic.  The kind of bread that you can't wait to turn into hot buttered toast in the morning.  The kind of bread that makes lunchtime a true joy.  The kind of bread that has you running home in the evening so that you can enjoy some more with your dinner.  That kind of bread.

My sourdough method is borrowed entirely from Chad Robertson's from Tartine Bread.  Moreover, my rye loaves--like my basic rye, my caraway rye, my Danish rye, and now this Corn Rye--are all based on Robertson's sourdough rye recipe from the very same book.  For optimum results, you should follow his directions closely.  Here, I'm just providing the measurements (in weight) and baker's percentages that you need to make two large loaves (roughly 2 pounds each).

Sourdough Corn Rye 
200 grams leaven (20%) 
600 grams warm water (80º F, ideally) + an additional 50 grams of warm water (65%)
100 grams fancy molasses (10%)  
[total hydration:  750 grams (75%), including the molasses] 
600 grams AP flour (60%) 
300 grams rye flour (30%) 
100 grams stoneground corn meal (preferably coarse) (10%) 
 [total flour:  1 kg (100%)]
20 grams of kosher salt (2%)
Photographic documentation:

Untitled  fig. b:  after first shaping

Here, the loaves have been given their initial shaping.  They've rested for 30 minutes.  They're just about to get their final shaping.

Untitled fig. c:  after second shaping

Here's loaf #1 after its final shaping.

Untitled fig. d:  before dusting

This loaf has received its final shaping and it's been placed in a rice flour-dusted towel in a bowl.  It's also upside down.  It will get dusted with more rice flour, it will get covered by the towel, and it will then go through its final fermentation process over the course of a few hours.

Untitled fig. e:  dusted!

Now the same loaf has been dusted, and it's waiting to get wrapped in the towel.

Untitled fig. f:  half loaf, full loaf

These are the two finished loaves.  One is already half-gone.

Untitled fig. g:  corn rye

Finally, this is an interior view of that half loaf.  You can see plenty of evidence of the coarse corn meal.  And it it looks moist, that's because it is.  In fact, it's a real keeper.  Still delicious days after baking (if you haven't eaten it by then).

This would  make a great loaf for a Thanksgiving feast.  It could also make for an excellent bread stuffing, so you might want to bake some extra and let it stale a little before the Big Day.  Just stick with those traditional, honest-to-goodness American flavours when you construct your stuffing.

Happy baking.  And happy Thanksgiving!


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