Cornmeal & Pine Nut Biscotti {ModBak}

This week’s recipe for Modern Baker Mondays is another biscotti. Like its predecessor, spicy hazelnut biscotti, this is a classic, crunchy, twice-baked biscotti. Although I’ve never had biscotti with pine nuts, what really surprised me about these cookies was the addition of cornmeal.

The dough mixed up quickly in the food processor. It came out powdery, much like the hazelnut biscotti dough. And like that dough, it came together on the dough board with a little mixing. Even though I had to press the dough firmly but gently to get it to stay together, I knew once it hit the oven, the butter would melt and pull the dough together.

After I put the logs of dough in the oven, I looked at the recipe again and realized I hadn’t added the correct amount of pine nuts. The recipe called for 3/4 cup pine nuts, but I only added 1/4 cup. I thought it seemed a bit light on the pine nuts while I was adding them, but by the time I figured it out, it was too late to fix it.

I baked the dough logs, then cooled them while I mixed up tart lime wafer dough for later in the week. After the logs had cooled, I sliced them into biscotti, then put them back in the oven to crisp.

I was a bit worried that these cookies might have an overly strong cornmeal flavor, but they were really good. As Nick says in the notes, the sweet corn flavor is enhanced  by the lemon zest and vanilla in the recipe. And even though they were light on the pine nuts, they still had a nice, nutty flavor, too.

This recipe is part of the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section of the Modern Baker Challenge. Check out the challenge page to see what other bakers thought of this and other recipes in the cookies section.

Pumpkin Cornbread {Recipe} {Autumn Roundup}

When my friend Di announced that she was hosting an Autumn baking roundup, I signed on right away. This is my favorite time of year, and I love the flavors of the season. I wasn’t sure what I would make (the theme is “Handmade Loaves”), but I knew I’d find something appropriate to the Fall weather.

I actually came up with this recipe the other night when I was gearing up for the Pumpkin Dinner Roundup that I hosted last week. I had already made and blogged my recipe for that event, Stuffed Pumpkin. But I got the idea to try a cornbread featuring pumpkin, and I thought about changing my Pumpkin Roundup post if it worked out as planned. That’s when I remembered Di’s roundup and decided to submit this recipe for that event.

Like most cornbread recipes, this one begins by mixing the wet and dry ingredients separately, then combining them and mixing briefly before spreading in a pan.

Pumpkin Cornbread

 Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

 Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Grease 8×11 ½-inch pan with spray oil.
  2. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in large bowl until well mixed.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk eggs, then add pumpkin, butter, and maple syrup and mix well.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until evenly moistened. Spread batter in pan and smooth top.
  5. Bake cornbread for 25-30 minutes, until firm to touch and cake tester inserted in middle comes out clean.

Yields 8-10 servings.

This was a delicious cornbread, and paired especially well with chili. I ate it warm on the day it was baked, and it had a definite pumpkin flavor. It reminded me of pumpkin bread, although not as sweet. I tried more the next morning and was surprised to find that at room temperature it tasted more like a traditional cornbread. I could hardly taste the pumpkin.

So, warm or room temperature, this is a great cornbread. And perfect for a cool Fall day.

Crisp Cornmeal Flatbread {ModBak}

The fifth recipe in the Breads section of The Modern Baker, and the last in a series of flatbreads, is Crisp Cornmeal Flatbread. This bread is actually what I would consider a cracker rather than a flatbread. When I think of flatbread, I think of pita bread, naan, tortillas, and the like. But that was OK with me, because I was a little flatbreaded out at this point.

I was looking forward to these crackers, as they had some interesting ingredients that I thought would lead to great flavor. One of the ingredients was cornmeal. As it happened, I had just visited the farmer’s market and picked up some red cornmeal, so I decided to use it in this recipe.

The other ingredient that we haven’t seen thus far in the book was cayenne pepper. And even though the recipe only called for 1/4 teaspoon, I knew a little would go a long way, especially in crackers.

I began by mixing the ingredients in the food processor, then setting the dough aside to rise.

After the dough had risen, I divided it into two piece, which I then rolled out to make the crackers. The directions say to roll the dough to the size of the pan on the work surface, then transfer it to the pan. I decided to bake my crackers on Silpat, so I rolled each half on the Silpat, then lifted it onto the pan.

I rolled the dough out to the edges of the Silpat, then trimmed the overlapping bits.

I was left with a very thin dough that almost completely covered the baking surface.

I baked the flatbreads in a 350° F oven for about 20 minutes, until they were golden brown and crisp.

They came out beautifully. The cornmeal gave a nice color and nutty flavor, and the crackers were crunchy with just a bit of heat from the cayenne. And talk about flat….

I broke the bread into irregular pieces and put them in a bowl. It looked great; unfortunately, we ate them all before I had a chance to take a picture.

This recipe is right up there with the pita bread as my favorite of the flatbreads. Definitely one to make again.

Spicy Jalapeño Cornbread {ModBak}

Although I have for the most part been baking the Modern Baker Challenge quick breads in order, I did a little jumping around this weekend. First, I had some fresh blueberries that I got at the market and wanted to use while they were still fresh, so I baked blueberry crumb muffins for breakfast this morning. Then, although I was planning on making the next recipe — apple raisin bread — this afternoon, I decided I really wanted cornbread for dinner tonight. And since I only had two eggs left in the fridge, the apple raisin bread would have to wait.

Check out my nifty new cookbook stand. I decided that I would try to keep The Modern Baker in better shape than The Bread Baker’s Apprentice during the Challenge. My wife saw the stand and thought it would make a nice holder for her iPad, but I convinced her otherwise, so it found its way to the kitchen and will hopefully help me keep TMB in good shape.

I decided to bake the spicy jalapeño cornbread in four mini loaf pans instead of one large loaf. My daughter prepared the pans by buttering them then lining the bottoms with parchment paper.

When my eyes begin to fail me and my fingernails turn blue....

The spicy jalapeño cornbread recipe calls for four jalapeños, but I decided to use three, as I didn’t want it to be too spicy for my family to enjoy. I started by chopping the scallions, then I put on rubber gloves and split, seeded, and chopped the jalapeños. The recipe calls for a stick of melted butter, so I melted it in the sauté pan, poured it into a bowl, and used the same pan to soften the scallions and jalapeños without the need for additional oil.

I mixed the dry ingredients — cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and, in my case, buttermilk powder — in a bowl and set it aside. In another bowl, I beat the eggs, then added water (in place of the milk), and whisked in the butter, cilantro, and the sautéed chilis and scallions. Finally, I folded in the dry ingredients.

The batter fit perfectly into the mini loaf pans, which went into the oven next to the chicken breasts we were cooking for dinner. The oven was set at 350° for the chicken, so I figured I would watch the loaves rather than trying to time them. As it was, they took about 25 minutes to bake.

We served the cornbread fresh out of the oven for dinner. I needn’t have worried about it being too hot. It had a lot of flavor from the cilantro, scallions, and jalapeños, but it wasn’t overly spicy.

This was another great recipe from a great book. So far, I haven’t been disappointed with any of the recipes I’ve tried. And this is another one I will definitely make again.

Struan Upon the Waters — Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

Here we are, rapidly approaching the halfway mark in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, and I’m still enjoying the ride. Even though I have been baking bread for more years than I care to admit, I continue to learn as I work my way through the recipes in Peter Reinhart‘s excellent book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

I was really excited about this week’s bread, Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire, as it is one of Peter’s signature breads, a version of which has appeared in several of his books. I’m not exactly sure why he renamed it — it was always called Struan before — but it’s basically the same bread, which I have wanted to make since reading Bread Upon the Waters. As the new name implies, this bread is chock full of grains, some of which aren’t generally used in bread baking. Having experimented with my own multigrain bread, Five Grain Seeded Sourdough, I was anxious to try Peter’s recipe.

As with many multigrain breads, including mine, this recipe begins with a soaker. The night before I made the bread, I put the cornmeal, wheat germ and oatmeal in a small bowl, added a little bit of water and covered the bowl with plastic wrap. The recipe called for wheat bran, but all I had on hand was wheat germ. I did an online search to try to determine how different the two really were. I learned that germ is the center of the wheat kernel, whereas bran is the outer husk. Beyond that, the information was confusing and conflicting. Some sites said that the two could be interchanged, while others stated that the difference between them was like that of an egg yolk to the eggshell. Armed with this lack of agreement, I went ahead and used the wheat germ for the recipe.

The next morning, I prepared my rice. Here, again, I had a slight departure from the recipe. I didn’t have any brown rice and didn’t feel like running out for it. So I called a friend of mine who was coming over and asked him to bring me some brown rice. As it turns out, he didn’t have any either. Instead, he brought me red rice. Never having eaten, let alone cooked with red rice, I went back to the ‘net, this time finding that red rice is cooked in the same manner as brown rice.

Now, that created a problem for me, as I have never had any luck cooking brown rice. It either comes out crunchy or as 1 big pasty lump. I did a search for how to correctly cook brown rice and found that our own Nicole, of Pinch My Salt fame, had a blog entry with directions for perfectly cooked brown rice. I knew I needed look no further. If Nicole said it worked, that was good enough for me. I followed her directions, and 40 minutes later, had perfectly cooked red rice.

Red Rice Boiling

Red, Red Rice

After the rice cooled, I mixed the dough. I began by putting the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl. Then I added the soaker and rice.

Mixing Straun

I began mixing the dough, which was quite sticky. It did not clear the bowl at all, and I knew it would need more flour. I added a few small scoops of flour. As they mixed in, I liked the look of the red rice in the dough but felt like it could use more. I had another ounce or so of rice left (about what I had put in to begin with), and I went ahead and added it all. Then I continued to add more flour until the bread had the right feel — tacky but not sticky. After about 10 minutes of mixing in the Kitchen Aid, I took the dough out of the bowl and kneaded it for a few minutes on the counter.

Straun Dough

I put the dough in a bowl to ferment, and about 75 minutes later, it had doubled and was ready for shaping.

Straun Doubled

I patted the dough out into an oval.

Patting out Straun

Then rolled it into a loaf and panned it.

Rolled Straun    Panned Straun

I then misted the dough with water and sprinkled it with poppy seeds.

Sprinkling on Poppy Seeds

I let the loaf proof for about 90 minutes, then baked it in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until it registered 185 degrees on my instant read thermometer. I took the loaf out of the pan to cool on a rack.

It smelled amazing — warm, yeasty, and a bit like molasses. In fact, I would say the smell reminded me quite a lot of Anadama Bread, the first BBA Challenge bread. Even though the Struan loaf had honey and brown sugar in it, I hadn’t really anticipated that it might have a sweet taste to it. Smelling it, I couldn’t imagine what the flavor would be like.

 Straun

One interminable hour later, I sliced the loaf. The crumb was beautiful – soft and light. And the taste really did remind me of Anadama bread. A bit milder, but really delicious. This would make an excellent sandwich bread and would also be great for morning toast and tea.

Straun Crumb

This is certainly a bread to make again. The only changes I might make next time would be to omit the poppy seeds on the top of the loaf — there’s nothing wrong with them, they just don’t seem to add anything to the bread. And I would make a double batch next time. This bread is just too good to only have one loaf at a time.