Peter Reinhart’s Cornbread, again

For my third week of bread, I decided I wanted to try Peter Reinhart’s Cornbread recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice again. I made this as one of my 365 recipes in 2010, but I used the corn frozen and had to bake it much longer than it originally called for.  I also wanted to try course-ground cornmeal this time around, which I didn’t use the first time around. This time, I cooked the bacon in the oven as the recipe instructed, and I am now a convert to oven bacon. It cooked perfectly.

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Peter Reinhart’s Cornbread (adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice)

1 cup (6 ounces) coarse cornmeal
2 cups buttermilk
8 ounces bacon
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
2 tbsp butter (I used the real thing this time around)
2 tbsp honey
16 ounces fresh or frozen corn (thawed)
2 tbsp bacon grease

The night before, combine the coarse cornmeal with the buttermilk to soak. I stored mine in the fridge; Reinhart says to leave out overnight. If you refrigerate the cornmeal, pull it from the fridge to warm to room temperature before making the cornbread.

Arrange the bacon in a single layer in a shallow baking sheet or pan and bake at 375F for about 15 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon to a plate to drain. Pour the bacon grease into another container to use for greasing the cornbread pan.

Combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Separately, melt the butter. Stir in the honey to melt. Whisk the eggs, and add the slightly cooled honey butter. Whisk this into the cornmeal and buttermilk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Add the corn kernels.

Place 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in a 10-inch round pan or a 9×13 inch pan. Place in a 350F oven for 5-7 minutes to melt the grease. Once it’s hot, pull the pan from the oven and carefully swirl the grease around to coat the pan. Scrape the batter into the hot pan. Crumble bacon on top of the batter. (Place a baking sheet on the rack below your usual baking rack if you’re using a springform pan, in case it drips.) Bake the cornbread for 45 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. (I suspect that the 30 minutes bake time from the original recipe is for a 9×13 inch pan.) The recipe says to have the temperature reach at least 185F; I suspect that 190F might be preferable.

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This cornbread was certainly delicious fresh. I liked the corn hidden inside the cornbread and the deliciousness of the bacon. I liked the gritty texture of the coarse cornmeal in this bread, and even though it may need soaking to cook thoroughly, I may have to start using it for all my cornbread. The cornbread was very soft and moist.

However, I still don’t feel like I’ve perfected my baking of this cornbread yet. We had leftovers of this for several days, and I grew less interested in it each time I ate it. I think that for me, it was too moist. It has more eggs in it than I usually have in cornbread, and I think it might have been a little too rich for me, too. I like my cornbread a little drier and more crumbly than this turned out to be. I’m going to give it one more try sometime, in a 9×13 inch pan, to see if I like it better that way. Otherwise, I may just incorporate bacon and corn into some other cornbread recipe, because I think that’s what stood out most to us for this cornbread.

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