All Things Andrea

All Things Andrea

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Peter Reinhart's Corn Bread

My neighbors were together for dinner last evening, so it was the perfect opportunity to try out this recipe.  I've been searching for a good corn bread recipe, and finally found one I like.  It's no surprise that it's a Peter Reinhart recipe - I've been extremely pleased with every single bread recipe I've tried of his; they're fail proof and delicious.  It's certainly not a healthy recipe, but some occasions warrant simple comfort food!  I could make it a bit healthier by substituting pasture-raised chicken skins for the bacon and using raw milk buttermilk, but didn't think about those options in time for last night. 

I didn't snap a picture before I served it, so here's the "after" shot:

  I loved the fact that I could serve it in my mom's cast iron skillet.  :)

Corn Bread
(from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice)

1 c. (6 oz.) coarse cornmeal (also packaged as "polenta")
2 c. (16 oz.) buttermilk
8 oz. bacon (approximately 10 slices)
1 3/4 c. (8 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 T. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 T. honey
2 T. unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 c. (16 oz.) fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 T. bacon fat or vegetable oil

The night before baking the corn bread, soak the cornmeal in the buttermilk.  Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

The next day, to prepare the bacon, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lay out the bacon on 2 sheet pans.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp.  Using tongs or a fork, remove the pieces to a pan lined with paper towels to cool.  Drain off the fat into a can or stainless-steel bowl and save for greasing the corn bread pan.  When the bacon has cooled, crumble it into coarse pieces.

Lower the oven setting to 350 degrees.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a mixing bowl.  Stir in the granulated sugar and brown sugar.  In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs.  Dissolve the honey in the melted butter and then stir the warm honey-butter mixture into the eggs.  Add this to the soaked corneal mixture.   Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon or whisk until all the ingredients are evenly distributed and the batter is blended and smooth.  It should be the consistency of thick pancake batter.  Stir in the corn kernels until they are evenly distributed.

Place 2 T. of the rendered bacon fat into a 10" round cake pan, 9x13" baking pan or 12" square pan.  Place pan in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until the fat gets very hot. Remove the pan, tilt it to grease the corners and sides, and pour in the batter, spreading it from the center of the pan to the edges.  Sprinkle the crumbled bacon pieces evenly over the top, gently pressing them into the batter.

Bake for about 30 min., or until the corn bread is firm and springy (the baking time will depend on the size of the pan) and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  The top will be a medium golden brown.  The internal temperature at the center of the corn bread should register at least 185 degrees.

Allow the bread to cool in the pan for at least 15 min. before slicing it into squares or wedges.  Serve warm.

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