I promised to post about my Pioneer Bread from the other night ages ago but I keep forgetting to update my blog when I have the recipe at hand. So I guess I'll just post this for now and double check my recipe later. Pioneer Bread is nothing more than a classic loaf of white bread with some cornmeal mixed in. I got this recipe from an extremely old Betty Crocker Breads cookbook that used to belong to my mother, which I don't believe is still in print. She has had that book for as long as I remember, and I started making this recipe when I was a kid. I don't know why I zeroed in on this one, but I've always gone back to it over the years. A few years ago my mom gave me the book, saying that I was the only one who ever baked out of it anyway.
I think it was probably the first loaf of homemade bread that I ever made, and it made me think that bread wasn't as intimidating as I had assumed, it just takes a lot of patience. Of course, any homemade bread is awesome, but somehow the addition of the cornmeal gives this loaf just a little bit more dimension and flavor.
It was also a great recipe to learn some of the techniques of classic bread, like the shaping of the loaf after the first rise. The technique described in this recipe insures no huge air holes and a sort of spiral pattern that you can almost see in the sliced loaf in the first picture. I think this causes the loaf to have a very uniform shape and density.
Recipe after the jump:
Adapted from the Betty Crocker Breads cookbook, copyright 1974.
1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (approx 105 to 115 degrees)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening or butter
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal, plus more for sprinkling
2 to 2 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp butter, melted
In the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook attachment, dissolve yeast in warm water and allow to proof for 10 to 15 minutes. Add sugar, salt, shortening, cornmeal and 1 cup flour, and turn the mixer to medium speed. Slowly add more flour until the dough comes together on the hook. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until it is elastic and smooth. Shape into a ball and place into a large bowl greased with oil, turning to coat. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when an indentation made with your finger remains. Punch down dough, then turn onto a lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin or your hands, flatten the dough into a large rectangle. Fold the dough into overlapping thirds, like a letter. Starting at one of the open ends, roll the dough up like a jelly roll, using your fingers to seal after each roll. Pinch the seam at the edge, then use the sides of your hands to press down the two open edges, tucking the seams under. Place seam-side down in a greased loaf pan, brush the loaf with melted butter, and sprinkle with cornmeal. Allow to rise 1 hour until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.