Crunchy Cornbread Focaccia – a hybrid recipe for the perfect texture.
Skip straight to my recipe for Cornbread Focaccia
Inspired by the satisfying crunch of fried bread that is key to both Cornbread and Focaccia, this recipe is the perfect way to demonstrate Stellar’s battery-free scale. With just a few twists, the scale provides an accurate reading without taking up lots of space in a cupboard or requiring regular trips to the hardware store to pick up those pesky coin batteries. This recipe would be very happily found next to a salad or on a cheese board or even next to some bolognese for a Mediterranean take on Chilli con Carne. It would be equally good topped with pickled jalapenos as well for a tart and spicy kick.
The scale is not unsubstantial, however. The size of a large remote control, it is light but sturdy, and well constructed. The mechanism to power on the device makes the satisfying whir of a crank torch and a handy button underneath allows you to cycle through units of measurement including grams, ounces and millilitres for water and milk. This device then functionally replaces both a scale and measuring jug in most circumstances, taking up much less space. At a maximum weight of 5 kilograms, you’re unlikely to find many recipes Stellar’s scale can’t handle in a home kitchen. Alongside a good mixing bowl, a dough scraper and a few tins for the oven, this weighing scale is a must-have for beginner baking. If you’d like one at home, they are available online here
Instant dry active yeast should work mixed straight into a dough, but we find it is good practice to make sure it’s alive by feeding it a little sugar and letting it bubble in some warm water. If the yeast mixture does not bubble, it may have expired and you’ll want to buy some more.
A cornbread is traditionally not yeasted, nor does it normally contain such a high proportion of wheat flour. This is enabled by cornbread scientifically being more similar to a cake, using baking powder and eggs to rise. The consistency of cornbread before it is baked is closer to a batter as well. This recipe, however, follows a more traditional focaccia method which is closer to a bread. The point at which both recipes meet is in the final cooking, where both mixtures are put in oil so that the edges can crisp.
The benefit of adding more bread flour, in proportion to the recipe, comes down to texture. While polenta provides a light nutty flavour and a satisfying bite, the bread flour makes the dough lighter and allows for the development of gluten which not only holds the dough together but also enables the distinctive chew and bounce of focaccia. It is important then to use strong white bread flour as, unlike plain, or especially cake flour, there is more gluten to develop and stretch in the kneading process. This process also traps CO2 which is replaced by steam when baked to help the dough become lighter.
Leaving the dough to rise overnight in the fridge is beneficial to the flavour, slowing down the yeast fermentation process in which the now reinvigorated yeast respirate to create more CO2 to help the dough rise. Leaving the dough for too long out of the fridge may make the yeast run out of sugars to feed on in the bread and result in a tougher dough. As such, it is recommended not to leave a dough out to rise or prove too long at room temperature.
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 200 g polenta flour
- 1 sachet instant dry active yeast
- 50 ml extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
- 5 g caster sugar
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 15 g flaky sea salt
Add 1 sachet or 5g of instant dry active yeast and 5g of sugar to a jug with 500ml of warm water and stir.
While waiting for this mixture to bubble, mix the bread flour, polenta flour and 15g of sea salt in a large bowl.
Make a well in the flour and pour in the bubbly yeast mixture, mix with a fork until they form a shaggy dough.
Kneed the mixture either in a mixer with a dough hook or by hand until the dough bounces back when poked with a finger.
Leave the dough to rise either overnight in the fridge or at room temperature until doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen, thoroughly grease a baking dish with the olive oil and shape the knocking it back and folding, place in the dish.
Preheat the oven to 220°C
Let the dough prove covered at room temperature for another hour or so and then prick it with the rosemary cut into inch long strips, drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
Bake the focaccia in the oven for 20 mins.
Let cool and then serve.
You can buy the stellar scales from reputable department stores or online here
Looking for something different? try our simple recipe for no-knead easy artisan bread