The Swedish Torch
Archive for January, 2012
I just love it!
Yield 8 servings
Time About 45 minutes
Original By Mark Bittman
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, olive oil, lard or bacon drippings
1 1/2 cups medium-grind cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups milk, more if needed
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put fat in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or in an 8-inch square baking pan. Place pan in oven.
2. Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix eggs into milk, then stir this mixture into dry ingredients, combining with a few swift strokes. If mixture seems dry, add another tablespoon or two of milk.
3. When fat and oven are hot, remove skillet or pan from oven, pour batter into it and smooth out top. Return pan to oven. Bake about 30 minutes, until top is lightly browned and sides have pulled away from pan; a toothpick inserted into center will come out clean. Serve hot or warm.
The basic version is plenty sweet and rich enough, but you could add even more sugar, another egg, and even more fat. Or you could reduce The sugar to 1/4 cup if you want to make it more like southern cornbread.
you could add bits of cooked bacon, sautéed onions or shallots, chili powder or cumin, chopped chilies or herbs, grated cheese, mashed or puréed beans or fresh, canned or frozen corn — you may have to adjust the amount of liquid you add.
Olive oil made it a little bitter. I’ll try something else next time.
3 cups lukewarm water
1 & ½ TBSP granulated yeast [2 packets]
1 & ½ TBSP coarse salt
6 & ½ cups unbleached all purpose white flour
Cornmeal for pizza peel [I’ve been using a cookie sheet and it works fine]
Mixing and storing the dough:
1. Warm the water slightly: It should feel just a little warmer than body temp, about 100 degrees.
2. Add yeast and salt to water in a 5 quart bowl.
3. Mix in the flour – kneading is unnecessary: Add all of the flour at once. Mix with a wooden spoon or heavy duty stand mixer w/ dough hook until mixture becomes uniform. You are finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. [This yields a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container]
4. Allow to rise: cover with a lid [not air tight – I’ve been using aluminum foil with holes pricked in it]. Allow mixture to rise at room temp until it begins to collapse [or at least flattens on top] approximately 2 hours. You can use a portion of the dough at any time after this period, but it is easier to work if it has been chilled at least 3 hours before shaping the loaf [and can sit in fridge for up to 14 days at this point until you are ready to use].
5. Sprinkle pizza peel [or pan] liberally with cornmeal to prevent loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven. Sprinkle surface of refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1 pound [grapefruit sized] piece of dough, using a serrated knife. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. Most of the dusting flour will fall off; it is not intended to be incorporated into the dough. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out and adhere during resting and baking. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 30 to 60 seconds.
6. Rest the loaf and let it rise on a pizza peel [or cookie sheet]. Place the shaped ball on the cornmeal-covered pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes. [it doesn’t need to be covered during the resting period]. Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period; more rising will occur during baking.
7. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees w/ baking stone placed on the middle rack [again, I baked on a cookie sheet and it has been yummy]. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread [this is important – allows bread to “steam” while baking – I used a pyrex dish with water in it]
8. Dust and slash: dust the top of the loaf with flour and slash with a knife – ¼ inch deep cross, scallop, or “tic tac toe” pattern into the top.
9. Bake with steam: after 20 minute preheat, put in oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. [I found that it only took my loaves 20 minutes to bake in my oven – 30 minutes gave me crispy fried black bread crust 😉 ]
10. Store remaining dough in refrigerator in lidded or covered container [not air tight – I use my mixing bowl with aluminum foil w/ holes pricked in it]. Store for up to 14 days and use when you need it.
I really liked this bread, especially the hardened outer crust.