Chef John's Rustic Italian Corn Bread


I was speaking with my mother, Pauline, last week, and she told me about a bread she used to eat at her grandmother's house. She said it was basic Italian bread, but had some cornmeal in it, and was one of her favorites. I love to play food detective, so I took her description and went to work. I believe this is pretty close to what she remembers, and even if it's a bit off, it was still delicious.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
35 mins
Additional Time:
3 hrs 40 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs 30 mins
1 loaf


  • 1 cup warm water

  • ½ cup bread flour

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

  • teaspoon white sugar

  • ½ cup cornmeal

  • 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

  • 2 cups bread flour, or as needed

  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal, or as needed


  1. Stir warm water, 1/2 cup bread flour, yeast, and sugar together in a bowl. Let stand until the yeast softens and forms a creamy mixture, about 40 minutes.

  2. Mix 1/2 cup cornmeal, olive oil, and salt into yeast mixture. Gradually add bread flour to yeast mixture until a dough pulls together.

  3. Knead dough on a lightly floured work surface until smooth and elastic, 10 to 12 minutes. Place dough in a large, lightly-oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 14-inch wide rectangle. Roll dough, starting from the long-end, into a loaf, finishing seam-side down.

  5. Dust a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon cornmeal. Place loaf on baking sheet, cover with a dry towel, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

  6. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Place a shallow pan of water on the lower rack of the oven.

  7. Cut a 1/2-inch deep slash down the center of the loaf.

  8. Bake in preheated oven until the top is golden brown and the bottom of loaf sounds hollow when tapped, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

103 Calories
5g Fat
13g Carbs
2g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 103
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Sodium 440mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 2g
Calcium 4mg 0%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 50mg 1%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

You’ll Also Love