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.

Recipe Summary

prep:
15 mins
cook:
35 mins
additional:
3 hrs 40 mins
total:
4 hrs 30 mins
Servings:
8
Yield:
1 loaf
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Ingredients

8
Original recipe yields 8 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

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

  • 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

103 calories; protein 2.1g 4% DV; carbohydrates 13.3g 4% DV; fat 4.7g 7% DV; cholesterol 0mg; sodium 440.4mg 18% DV. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (20)

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Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
09/08/2014
An easy bread to make. I kneaded the bread by hand and was surprised how easy it was to do. The bread was crusty on the outside and tender on the inside. My husband loved the bread with butter. Read More
(5)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
10/14/2014
I tried making this in my bread maker and it was an epic failure. I'm not going to blame the recipe. Apparently, what makes it work isn't compatible with my bread maker. Read More
(3)
29 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 23
  • 4 star values: 5
  • 3 star values: 1
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
09/08/2014
An easy bread to make. I kneaded the bread by hand and was surprised how easy it was to do. The bread was crusty on the outside and tender on the inside. My husband loved the bread with butter. Read More
(5)
Rating: 5 stars
04/08/2018
First off, the bake time is actually only 25 mins. Like another reviewer, I made this in my bread machine on dough cycle. Shaped the loaf and let it rise one more time and it baked to perfection at 425 degrees! Read More
(4)
Rating: 5 stars
10/15/2016
This bread was wonderful! Thank you cef john I love you and all your wonderful recipe s! Lol??? Read More
(3)
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Rating: 5 stars
08/09/2016
Well That temp first. At 425 degrees you better start checking it at 25 minutes. I checked it at 26 minutes turned it over and thumped the bottom and because the color was a dark brown I determined that it had baked long enough. The crust is great (crunchy)and the inside is nice and tender. It hasn't cooled yet and the loaf is half gone. It will never make it until tomorrow. Every once in awhile that Chef John does comes up with a good one. Another thing. The proofing times. I think they are for all purpose flour. I used bread flour like the recipe calls for and the first raising time was more than doubled in 1 hour. I let the loaf raise for 30 minutes and popped it in the oven. It turned out great. Read More
(3)
Rating: 3 stars
10/13/2014
I tried making this in my bread maker and it was an epic failure. I'm not going to blame the recipe. Apparently, what makes it work isn't compatible with my bread maker. Read More
(3)
Rating: 5 stars
11/27/2015
I made this for Thanksgiving the night before. They were soft moist and delicious. Perfectly dense but light at the same time. I'll definitely be using this recipe for all of my italian bread needs! Read More
(2)
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Rating: 4 stars
04/07/2018
This is spectacular. I used my bread maker on the dough setting then formed the loaf let it rise again and baked it. I am only giving 4 stars because I think the baking time/temperature is wrong. My loaf was done in 25 minutes even though I turned the heat down to 400. Read More
(2)
Rating: 4 stars
08/05/2015
Not have corn meal I used some corn flour instead. Still turned out very good. Bake time was a little too long but that may have been due to my variation. Read More
(1)
Rating: 4 stars
10/05/2015
I would use less salt. This bread is tasty but didn't live up to my expectation as I thought the cornmeal flavor was lost. Read More
(1)
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