Poilane’s Corn Flour Bread

At some point, we’re all going to have to decide on the same measuring system. Maybe we can make it our New Year’s resolution? Most of the world is using the metric system while a few holdouts, namely the United States, Liberia, and Burma, are sticking with other systems of measurement. For the record, I know some very good bakers that use cups and tablespoons, and I like them as well.

Anyone who says they aren’t accurate hasn’t encountered a French recipe that calls for un verre de vin de lait (a “wine glass” of milk), a cullière à soupe (a soup spoon) of baking powder, or trois feuilles de gélatine, when every sheet of gelatin I’ve come across is either a different size, weight, or strength. And my wine glasses come in a lot of different sizes, too, although I always seem to reach for the largest ones…but not necessarily for baking.

Although books have been written on the subject, my take is that most Americans like holding measuring spoons and cups. It’s more tactile and visceral, kind of like how many of us holdouts don’t want to make dinner in a machine that will make it for us.

Many of us have fond memories of measuring cups, having seen our parents and grandparents using them, and having them handed down to us, but for recipe writers, metrics really are the way to go. The accuracy issue aside, it’s easy to cut a recipe down, say, 20%, which comes in handy when you’re testing a recipe but find that if you could somehow resize the batter down by 20-percent, it’d fit perfectly in a standard cake pan. Otherwise, you’re stuck telling people to use 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of milk, or the 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon of heavy cream I saw in a European cookbook that had been translated into English. I don’t know about you, but I’m not measuring out 1/4 teaspoon of cream to make a batch of ice cream.

I decided to write recipes in both systems of measurement around eighteen years ago when publishers were against it, saying the extra type on the page made recipes look more confusing. For me, on the blog (and in cookbooks), it’s a lot of extra checking, weighing and writing, and checking, weighing and editing again, to make sure you get all the conversions right. And even then, one gets challenged. Le sigh.

One thing I think everyone can agree on, though, is that Poilâne bakery is the most revered bread bakery in the world. Sure, a lot of other bakeries have opened up near and far, but every professional baker I know gives credit to founder Lionel Poîlane for enriching the world with the idea that simplicity, flavor, and nourishment of good bread made with wholesome ingredients, is an important foundation in our world. And one he promoted not just with words, but with every loaf that came out of his wood-fired ovens.

Many people, myself included, experienced going into the bakery and having him lead you down the stairs to where the oven is, whether he knew you or not. If you expressed interested in bread, he’d take your down there, grab a blob of bubbling, velvety levain dough from the mixer bowl, and shape it into a round boule, which was very convincing proof of how it easy it was to make a good loaf of bread.

Of course, it’s not as simple as that. One of the things that he had going for him was decades of experience making bread. In Poilâne: The Secrets of the World-Famous Bread Bakery, his daughter Apollonia Poilâne, tells of the story of losing her father, but picking up the reins of the bakery and bringing Poîlane bakery into the next century.

It’s tricky changing things in France, especially something classic and beloved. But generations and tastes change; one I noticed soon after she took over was that they stopped using the oversized bags for bread (for ecological reasons), and now use more compact ones. They’ve also refashioned their famous Punition cookies (page 193), buttery shortbreads called sablés, into spoon-shapes, which are used for stirring coffee in their café. They were such a hit, they started selling them in the bakery.

These stories, and recipes, are in the book, including this Corn-Flour Bread, which I tasted at the bakery right before they were planning to launch it. It’s made with corn flour, not cornmeal, and is both gluten-free and dairy-free. Corn and cornmeal aren’t used in many French dishes, but being half-American (on her late mother’s side) Apollonia embraced corn. Like everything at Poilâne, from the deceptively simple sablés and apple tarts, to the rye-raisin bread (I defy anyone to find a better raisin bread anywhere), this corn flour loaf is delicious.

I replaced the original hazelnuts in the recipe with pumpkin seeds, for the nut-free people. If you can’t eat seeds, well…okay, you finally got me. But you can leave nuts and seeds out altogether, or keep them in for crunch. I also found that putting the flax seeds in a mortar and pestle, as directed, caused the slippery little devils to jump around, and evade pounding.

A few blitzes in a mini-chopper did the job more effectively. (The book also says you can pound them in a zip-top freezer bag with a rolling pin.) So the only thing left to do was find a warm place in my apartment, in the midst of this chilly winter we’re having, to let the dough rise. Fortunately I found on a shelf above a radiator, and put a folded kitchen towel underneath the loaf so it didn’t get too hot. Voilà, it worked perfectly.

Now that I have this easy recipe in my pocket, I’m going to give it a go in a batch of stuffing. When I went to the outdoor market to get sage, the grower/vendor told me it was winter, so sage was a no-go. But when I’d told her that I was going to use it to make a cornbread farce (stuffing), she was visibly baffled and called to the others working at her stand to let her know she had a live one in front of her. Actually, they were all a little intrigued, but were having trouble picturing it in their minds. Minds are tough to change everywhere, whether it involves a cup or a scale, or using an unknown ingredient in a traditional recipe. But my mind is made up on this bread, which is the picture of perfection; it’s easy to make, and even easier to eat.

Poilâne's Corn Flour Bread
Print Recipe
One 9-inch (23cm) loaf
Adapted from Poilâne: The Secrets of the World-Famous Bread Bakery by Apollonia Poilâne I changed the original recipe a bit, adding a touch of honey, which augmented the taste of the cornmeal, but you're welcome to leave it out or replace it with sugar or maple syrup. The original recipe also used 1 cup of toasted hazelnuts, chopped, but I liked the pumpkin seeds in it. You can leave the nuts or seeds out if you wish. I've made the loaf a few times, at first with the oat milk that's used in the book (which keeps it vegan and dairy-free), as well as with whole milk, and it worked well with both. Note that this recipe uses corn flour, not cornmeal. Corn flour is yellow and has the consistency of all-purpose flour, and is finely milled. I find it in natural food stores. You can find it online at Bob's Red Mill and King Arthur Flour. In some countries, what's called cornflour is corn starch, and isn't the same thing, so shouldn't be used. Update: A few readers in the comments had trouble getting the dough to rise. I found that it's important to make sure to use yeast that works. The yeast isn't proofed first in this recipe, but if you want to ensure your yeast is working, warm about 1/4 cup (60ml) of the milk that'll be added in step #3 until it's just warmer than room temperature (~80ºF/27ºC) and sprinkle the yeast over. It should start bubbling in 5 to 10 minutes. If it doesn't, replace the yeast you're using with a new packet.
3 tablespoons (35g) flax seeds
1 2/3 cups (400ml) oat milk or whole cow's milk
2 cups (240g, 8.5oz) corn flour, I recommend measuring this by weight (see headnote for other info about corn flour)
2 3/4 teaspoons (9g) active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons flaky sea salt, or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup (60g) lightly toasted pumpkin seeds, very coarsely chopped, optional
1. Lightly crush the flax seeds in a mini-chopper or in a zip-top freezer bag with a rolling pin. Mix the seeds in a small bowl with 2/3 cup (160ml) of the milk. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. (This can also be done in advance and refrigerated for 24 hours before you plan to use it.)
2. Lightly oil a 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan.
3. In a large bowl, stir together the corn flour, yeast, and salt. Add the milk/flax seed mixture, the honey, the rest of the milk, and the pumpkin seeds, if using*. Mix thoroughly then scrape into the prepared loaf pan. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour. The loaf will rise slightly, but not dramatically.
4. Ten to fifteen minutes before the bread is ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
5. Bake the bread until it starts to brown around the edges and the center feels just done when you press it, about 25 to 30 minutes. The baking time will vary depending on the size of the pan. If you use a wider pan than I used, the bread will be done at the shorter end of the baking time. (The book recommended baking the bread at 400ºF/200ºC for one hour, which seemed very long to me.) However rather than depending on exact baking time, begin checking for doneness at the 25-minute mark.
6. Remove the bread from the oven and let cool about 30 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool on a wire rack completely before slicing.

Storage: The bread will keep for up to three days at room temperature, wrapped in a tea towel. It will get a little crumbly in the subsequent days after it's baked. It can also be frozen for two to three months.

*The seeds will make the bread a little more crumbly to slice, but I like the crunch of them in the bread, so deal with it. Using a <a href="https://www.davidlebovitz.com/the-bread-knife/">sharp bread knife</a> will help you get cleaner slices.

 

An easy-to-make bread from Poilâne bakery in Paris: Gluten- and dairy-free!

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89 comments

  • Gavrielle
    December 16, 2019 11:35am

    I struck a new wrinkle on the whole cup thing recently when I read that you should spoon dry ingredients into a cup instead of scooping them as the quantity will be different. I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that. Considering my grandmother’s recipe books all talk, with delightful vagueness, of a breakfastcup or a teacup, I’m not convinced it makes that much difference. I do scrupulously use my beloved solar-powered scale to make your recipes, though, David! I know you worked hard on them and I want to do them justice.

  • Judy
    December 16, 2019 11:48am

    Please tell me what are flax seeds

    • MaryEllin
      December 16, 2019 3:30pm

      They are the seeds of flax plants. Don’t know what part of the world you’re in, but in the US you can get them at some markets in the baking/spice aisle or online.

      • December 17, 2019 9:17pm

        Also known as linseeds. Linen is made from this plant too!

  • Richardson
    December 16, 2019 11:51am

    David, is the fine cornmeal you speak of yellow and the same as fine polenta? I am in the UK.

    • Bonnie
      December 16, 2019 12:05pm

      I’d like to know this too. As what we can buy in the shops that is labelled corn flour is what in North American is called — cornstarch, a very fine, very white powder used for thickening!

      • December 19, 2019 2:41am

        Not cornstarch. Read from the beginning of his post

    • Sandra Baumgartner
      December 21, 2019 3:04pm

      The bread looks fantastic and I would love to make it, however ….

      I don’t understand the purpose of the yeast as I don’t see any ingredient listed that contains gluten. Corn flour doesn’t contain gluten.

      • Lara
        January 1, 2020 7:05pm

        I often use yeast in my GF breads. True, without gluten you don’t get the same elastic expanse, but it does tend to give it a bit of a rise and alters the texture.

    • David Kellett
      January 7, 2020 5:44pm

      I too would like to know if Corn Flour is the same as fine polenta. In the UK the only ground corn thing I’ve seen that matches the description would be fine polenta. What we in the UK call cornflour is definitely what Americans call Corn Starch.
      On Cups verses accurate measures – it’s sometimes a deal breaker for me on buying a book. I won’t buy it (or only with extreme reluctance) if it’s in cups. Same with on line recipes, I always look for one with accurate measures. The concept of “cup of dried apricots” is just ludicrous to me. It could be almost any amount.

      • January 7, 2020 5:57pm
        David Lebovitz

        I think fine polenta is granulated and corn flour is powdered/pulverized, so they’re not the same. I don’t know what actual corn flour is called in England, unfortunately. In France and in the U.S. it’s called flour/farine.

        On the subject of accuracy, it’s interesting that most French baking recipes don’t give pan sizes or they’ll just say “medium heat” for oven temperature. To me, that info seems important, but I’ve learned to bake between the two countries and systems.

  • Annette
    December 16, 2019 12:10pm

    In the US here and I have the same question about fineness. I have some beautiful locally milled flour but am wondering if I need to give a a whirl in the grinder?
    Thanks for your soul sustaining newsletter David.

  • Ernesta
    December 16, 2019 12:35pm

    Believe me, the effort of giving both the metric and cup measures is REALLY appreciated, thank you ever so much!!

    • December 16, 2019 3:48pm
      David Lebovitz

      You’re welcome! : )

  • Martha
    December 16, 2019 12:39pm

    I’m not sure my post got through. It just disappeared. I’ll ask again. Can I use masa? I believe it’s cornflour. It’s used to make tortillas and is widely available in supermarkets here in the States.

    • December 16, 2019 2:51pm

      Masa harina, used for tortillas and tamales, is treated with lime juice (nixtamalization). It will taste different.

      • December 16, 2019 4:28pm

        Not lime juice- calcium hydroxide fot masa.

    • Joanna S
      December 22, 2019 2:02pm

      I used Masa and it did not rise at all and came out as a very dense loaf. Tasted ok but not right. Couldn’t find corn flour anywhere!

  • Sarahb13
    December 16, 2019 12:42pm

    First, cannot wait to try this recipe.
    Regarding the measuring, I am always amazed that despite being imprecise with scooping out my items in cups and spoons, and then changing to weighing, it has made no difference in the outcome. I found over the years it is the way the ingredients are combined and how long they are mixed, that must be the part that makes the difference and why friends often cannot recreate what I think is an easy foolproof recipe.
    But totally converted to weighing. So much easier!!

    • December 16, 2019 3:48pm
      David Lebovitz

      There are also a number of variables that measuring vs. weighing doesn’t always compensate for, like the humidity and protein content in flour, the salinity of salt, the percentage of fat in butter, the percentage of cacao solids in chocolate, etc. Weighing is great and I use a scale, although a few times I’ve been adding dry ingredients to a bowl on my scale, and the scale inexplicably turned itself off (I think it’s an energy-saving feature), so I have to start all over again (irksome, because some of the ingredients were already mixed in the bowl.) But another is if the batteries run out in your scale, and you’re in the middle of a baking project, you’re out of luck unless you’ve got spares – I always keep them on hand because I’ve been caught without back-up.

      • Lisa
        December 16, 2019 5:00pm

        The perils of the scale! But those instances are rare. I absolutely notice a difference since I started using weights for baking. In fact I finally figured out why the topping and filling of the sour cream coffee cake I had baked for decades suddenly kept sinking – the recipe must have been developed for “scooping” which usually results in more flour. When I added a small amount of additional flour my problem was solved.

        • wildbill
          December 16, 2019 7:17pm

          This is one of those “ahh ha!” moments

  • Kathleen
    December 16, 2019 12:56pm

    At your suggestion I bought the bread knife that Poilane sells, and it is great.

    • December 16, 2019 3:43pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, it is!

  • Lien
    December 16, 2019 3:19pm

    Thank you David. Sounds so yummy. I have to give this a try soon :). Happy Holidays!

  • Juliánna
    December 16, 2019 3:22pm

    A quick google search, et voilà les différences entre the various types of flour made of corn:

    https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/difference-between-cornmeal-corn-flour-polenta-grits-article

    And definitely NO cornstarch!!

    • Bronwyn
      December 17, 2019 4:12am

      That doesn’t include corn flour either. The corn flour I have is bought from an Indian grocery, it is yellow, and fine like ordinary flour. And I’m not at all sure if it’s the flour used for this bread or not.

  • Susan Rebillot
    December 16, 2019 3:29pm

    Thank you for this, David! I am shopping for the book and plan to bake this bread.

  • Julie
    December 16, 2019 3:45pm

    I don’t know if this will be answered But if I want to use hazelnut, as in the original recipe, would it be the same amount as the pumpkin seeds? I really love hazelnuts.

    • December 16, 2019 4:00pm
      David Lebovitz

      The original recipe called for 1 cup of hazelnuts. I mentioned it in the headnote but there’s a lot of info in there, so easy to overlook ;)

  • December 16, 2019 3:58pm

    Can’t wait to make this David! Sadly, King Arthur does not have corn flour, FYI. I realize I’ve never used corn flour. Corn meal, toasted corn meal, masa harina, and yes, cornstarch. Thanks for this!

    • witloof
      December 16, 2019 4:38pm

      You can get corn flour from Bob’s Red Mill.

  • CORI ROTH
    December 16, 2019 4:02pm

    Thorough, engaging, educational. I love your blog and I feel as though I am beside you in your kitchen. I look forward to trying this bread.

  • Iris Jewett
    December 16, 2019 4:15pm

    Do Poilane and Eric Kayser have their own farms to grow wheat and corn? I live in Seattle and buy my flour in Canada. The Canadian flour gives my bread a better flavor.

    • Lydia
      December 16, 2019 5:01pm

      I live in Canada and just bought the organic all purpose flour I like at Costco in Bellingham. What kind of flour do you like in Canada?

      • Iris
        December 19, 2019 7:50am

        I use Robin Hood. I have a bread recipe that I have been making for 45 years. The Robin Hood just makes it better. I tried the organic flour from Costco and found it was just ok, not great.

    • Claire LS
      December 17, 2019 2:51am

      There is a great company in Vancouver, Flourist, that is sourcing flours from the Prairies. They work directly with farmers and limit the amount of processing. They are excellent and ship to the US.

  • Alicia
    December 16, 2019 4:17pm

    David, I wasn’t going to read this post as I am intolerant to corn but curiosity got hold of me. As always, I enjoy your recipes & sense of humor. Thank you for bringing yummy recipes and laughter to all of us, all over the world. As for using a scale, I much prefer this option.

  • December 16, 2019 4:36pm

    Hi David, I always trust your recipes and follow them diligently. I made the recipe for Poilane’s punitions (perhaps my favorite cookie) in her new cookbook but it called for too much flour which I discovered only after I added all of it, trustingly. The cookies were hard to roll out and were on the dry side. Did you find similar issues with her recipes? Just wondering.

    • December 16, 2019 4:50pm
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve only made this recipe and the only thing I changed, as noted, was the baking time and temperature. (And I used pumpkin seeds rather than the hazelnuts, and did try it with regular milk – as well as oat milk, which the original recipe called for, just to see how cow’s milk worked in case people couldn’t get oat milk.)

      • Madeline Bishop
        December 16, 2019 7:19pm

        What you say about descending to the basement at Poilane’s to see the ancient ovens is true. After a fascinating chat with one of the Boulangers, he invited me, an American tourist, to go down those worn stone steps to see. I’ll never forget the thrill.

  • December 16, 2019 4:53pm

    David, I think you mean goat milk not oat milk as listed. Don’t give up on Americans and measuring. More and more bakers and pastry chefs are using weights (although it seems no one agrees on the weights which is a bigger problem) On my blog, http://www.pastrieslikeapro.com, I have been using volume, grams and ounces since it started. Grams are easier than ounces and that is my first choice. My first book, The New Pastry Cook published in 1986 also used weights.

    • December 16, 2019 5:15pm
      David Lebovitz

      It’s oat milk that they use, which makes it dairy-free. (Although it’d probably work with goat milk, too!)

  • MaryAlice Denson
    December 16, 2019 5:20pm

    What a lovely so well written piece on metric v. standard, in USA, measurements, aside from the enticing description of this bread. I’ll read it again for the pleasure, and corn flour is on my list so that I’ll have the pleasure of eating as well.

  • December 16, 2019 5:21pm

    Much prefer the scale…not only more accurate but less clean up. I notice in your photos that you have levure as well as yeast but there is no levure in the recipe????? Can’t wait to try. Looks delicious.

    • December 16, 2019 5:46pm
      David Lebovitz

      There are 2 3/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast in the recipe, listed in the ingredients. Levure is French for yeast (or rising-agent, as was pointed out below).

      • Bronwyn
        December 17, 2019 4:15am

        Is baking powder not “levure chimique”? Which would make levure “leavening” or something like that.

        • December 17, 2019 8:50am

          That’s baking powder, but yeast is levure boulangère…or levure de boulanger, which is also sometimes called levure du boulanger, too. (Whew!)

          I should have added that but it’s a lot of typing, so I’m trying to answer as many comments as I can, while being thorough – but covering as many of the bases as I can. Thanks fro the precision : )

  • ron shapley
    December 16, 2019 5:34pm

    I get my loaf of Poilane at Agata and Valentina in NYC…. 7 bucks, half a loaf…….

  • Bebe
    December 16, 2019 5:52pm

    In the US many hispanic and arabic grocers have fine corn flour

  • Ted
    December 16, 2019 5:56pm

    I wished for some years that writers of baking books (or their editors) would include a note from the author/recipe developer about the weight of the cup of flour used in their book.Then they could specify any number of cups of flour and those of us who prefer to weigh could convert the measurement.

    Thanks for your wonderful blog, books and recipes

    • Linda
      December 16, 2019 8:28pm

      Yes, I agree, it is confusing. Many professional bakers in the U.S. calculate a cup of all-purpose flour at 140 grams, but the several national brands I have used weigh around 120 or 125 grams per cup (per the manufacture’s label). Sigh.

    • December 16, 2019 8:39pm
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Ted,

      Mostly publishers used to just publish a standard conversion guide in the back of cookbooks. It’s one way to do it, although when cooking from a book, it’s a little frustrating to go back and forth checking that. But you’re right that it’s one way to go – glad you like the blog + my books!

  • Valerie
    December 16, 2019 6:04pm

    David, your blog is a joy to read.

  • normadesmond
    December 16, 2019 7:05pm

    I recall making my grandmother write down her Passover sponge cake recipe for me. When I questioned her instructions- 1/2 a glass of this, 1/2 a glass of that, she incredulously replied, A Yartzeit Glass!

  • Mak
    December 16, 2019 7:28pm

    I grew up with measuring cups and spoons and have no nostalgia or fondness for them whatsoever — I find reference to them to be the single most frustrating thing about backing which keeps me from baking more often. I think American bakers are ready to throw these things out as soon as cookbooks consistently revert to weight measures. I’m constantly shocked that so many good cookbooks still don’t provide these.

  • Mary
    December 16, 2019 7:44pm

    Thank you for another great post! Do you think almond milk could be used in place of the oat milk?

    • December 16, 2019 8:37pm
      David Lebovitz

      I haven’t tried it but it should work. If you do try it, let us know how it works out.

  • Vivian
    December 16, 2019 8:21pm

    Digital scales are the way to go! Mine shuts off too if I’m not quick enough with additions…wonder if there’s a way to turn the “energy saver” function off? Intriguing recipe David, must try it.

  • Janice
    December 16, 2019 8:36pm

    Do you know if I replace the flax seeds with chia seeds? I am allergic and curious to know if it would serve a similar binding function. Or would you recommend psyllium?

    I’m newly GF so would love to try this recipe.

    • December 17, 2019 8:54am
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know about chia seeds as I only tried it with flax. You could give it a try! If you do, let us know how it turns out.

  • December 16, 2019 9:53pm

    This is so up my alley and looks great. I cannot wait to make it!

  • December 16, 2019 10:01pm

    From cups and spoons to grams we all should be able to convert or at least walk our fingers through the internet conversion tables. When Rombauer wrote Joy of Cooking she did not mention the pains. I adore being in the kitchen but I admit a willing hand to step-n-fetch would be lovely. Not to mention anyone offering to wash dishes in my house is my new favorite. I love looking at the gadgets but I admit I am a simple girl in the kitchen. Besides there are a world of gadgets and I must save room for all of the lovely dishes and wine glasses. By the way, did you make a cornbread dressing or stuffing? How did it turn out? In the South, we hold our cornbread dressing in high regard, its all about the ingredients and love added.

  • Mary
    December 16, 2019 10:11pm

    I prefer using grams when in the kitchen for most recipes. However, I am surprised so few include recipes anywhere include finished temperatures for a product – like bread, custard/curds, baked potatoes, etc. I live by my thermapen also! Have you thought of including this hint – esp. when your time was so different from the original recipe.

    • December 17, 2019 9:02am
      David Lebovitz

      I haven’t except in rare cases. I doubt most people have internal thermometers and prefer to give people visual and tactile clues, and rely on their senses, rather than absolute temperatures. There’s only so much information a recipe can contain, but I’m reading Stand Facing the Stove right now, the story of how the two women wrote The Joy of Cooking, and there’s a lot of discussion how people previously never used a cookbook or recipe to cook, and it was a cultural shift for people to use recipes.

      It definitely was a different time…there’s also an interesting chapter about how differently people wrote recipes back then as well. The first recipes told people how to cook the dish, by technique. Eventually that changed to include more (and more) details. Even today, in France, recipes usually don’t even specify things like pan or baking dish sizes.

  • Lee
    December 17, 2019 12:43am

    I’m wondering if you can use flax meal in place of the flax seeds. That’s what I have in my fridge and use for smoothies.

  • Karen
    December 17, 2019 5:22am

    I switched over to weighing my ingredient in grams a long time ago but often have to use the cups when using someone else’s recipe. In the last few years, though, a lot more recipe writers are including volume, and weights in ounces and grams. Which I love. I’m in the US were most people are not using metric, but I do field research where everything is metric and the math is just so much easier. It was difficult when I switched in the kitchen, though, because I had figure out what everything weighed in relation to its volume. A cup of flour, for example, can weigh anywhere between about 113g to 170g depending on who you get it into the cup and how compacted your flour has become. Converting from measuring spoons was just as bad because no two brands scoop the same volume. So recipes took a lot of tweaking, and I had a notebook full of conversion notes. Weighing ingredients does make it harder for me to share my recipes with friends because most of them don’t have a kitchen scale and wouldn’t use one even if I gave them one.

    This corn flour bread looks really tasty and quite different from the usual cornbreads I’ve made in the past. I can’t wait to try it. Another use for that bag of corn flour which seems to hang out in my freezer forever, waiting for me to find something else to use it for.

    • December 17, 2019 8:58am
      David Lebovitz

      What I did, for my conversions, was measure everything as I baked, and writing them down. I now have a 6-8 page document with all my conversions. You’re right that many conversions vary. A while back, the late Gourmet magazine had an article about measuring salt by tablespoon, and the results (depending on the brand of spoon) were wildly different. I know some baking books tell people to buy certain types of measuring cups, etc, but that’s a lot to ask a reader to do.

      Thankfully most recipes aren’t so persnickety, but some people want everything in a recipe, from adding baking times for standard vs convection ovens, internal temperatures, protein content of flours, and cacao percentages in chocolate. I once saw a 3-page recipe for brownies that had TMI (too much information) – !

  • jane
    December 17, 2019 6:58am

    What a visually pleasing loaf; the yellow, and the green of the pumpkin seeds – beautiful. Since it is also gluten-free and vegan I will try it, thank you.

  • Ducklady
    December 17, 2019 10:46am

    I’d like to try this recipe but I am still not clear what the corn flour is. I hope David will answer those of us who have asked. Is it the finely ground meal labeled polenta in Ireland? Or the white powdery stuff known as cornstarch in the US and corn flour in Ireland?

    • December 17, 2019 10:55am
      David Lebovitz

      I included a paragraph in the headnote of the recipe, with some links, to help people understand what the corn flour used in the recipe is. That paragraph also talks about the differences between U.S.-style cornstarch (the white powdery stuff), which is called corn flour in the UK, and isn’t the same thing and shouldn’t be used.

      To see what I used, there’s a photo near the top of the post with the bag, and some of the corn flour shown in a bowl alongside. (A few readers chimed in the comments as well, with tips that I thought were helpful.) Corn flour is yellow, finely pulverized corn. It resembles all-purpose flour and is powdery, rather than granulated. Bob’s Red Mill carries it and also had a picture on their website. I think Kells sells it in Ireland but only commercially.

      • Ducklady
        December 18, 2019 6:16pm

        Thank you. I think it looks like the finely ground polenta I get at my greengrocer’s. I’ve actually been wondering what to do with it.

  • rainey
    December 17, 2019 9:56pm

    Some years ago I discovered beakers with universal measurements printed around the sides. And my baking scale has to toggle that will give me metric or pound & ounces results. My oven, likewise, registers C & F depending on what setting I’ve chosen.

    I no longer convert recipes. I just do my measuring as they’re given. I use whatever is convenient and I frequently find that metric quantities are much easier to divide in half than some conventional American ones.

    Meanwhile, it’s hard to escape the buttheaded stoopidity that refuses to come to terms with the way of the world. There’s nothing particularly fabulous about the US way of doing things and intelligent people would adjust quickly enough.

    I lived in Canada when they were going through the transition. I can well remember ingredients formatted with 3 columns — metric measurements, ingredient name, cups/ounces/etc. No one missed a beat.

  • Lisa
    December 18, 2019 12:54am

    This baked up wonderfully! I included the pumpkin seeds, and the bread has a lovely nuttiness and savoriness that regular corn bread doesn’t have.

  • Margaret
    December 18, 2019 9:53am

    Have you tried making your own corn flour by pulverizing corn meal in a food processor?

  • Margaret
    December 19, 2019 4:13am

    I’ve got to make this — found Bob’s Red Mill corn flour at Central Market San Antonio today — they have it all :)

  • Eileen
    December 19, 2019 10:15pm

    Hi David- I used the weight measurements but my batter came out really thick, closer to a biscuit consistency. Yours looks more like a liquid. I do live at altitude, which can make flours dryer- should this batter be pourable or more stiff like a biscuit dough?

    • December 20, 2019 10:29am
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Eileen, The batter should be pourable, sort of the consistency of thick pancake batter or a milk shake. I made it three times and didn’t have that issue but the altitude may be an issue? If so, I’d add a small amount of additional milk to it to see if you can get it to that consistency.

  • Debra Simmons
    December 20, 2019 12:37am

    Since I began reading you, there has been such a explosion of blogs that relate to food and cooking. Since I trust your opinion on such matters, I wonder if you would, as you have done in the past, list a few of the current blogs that you spend time following. Ones that don’t require me to subscribe, swear allegiance to, buy products used or require photos of items tried for some social media. You can probably make a good guess about my age, but I have given up on so many that require that I join a subset of a cult.
    I would very much appreciate your comments, as I usually do.

  • Inbal Anna Rose
    December 21, 2019 7:41am

    Simply to say that one of the many, and much appreciated, excellent things about your blog is that you measure out your ingredients both by volume and (thankfully) weight using the metric system.

  • Denise
    December 21, 2019 6:50pm

    I don’t know what I did wrong, but this did not rise at all. I used the exact amount and it was new (not expired). What am I doing wrong? Thanks for any suggestions.

    • December 22, 2019 7:38am
      David Lebovitz

      Sounds like your yeast. I would check it by sprinkling some in a little dish of just-above-tepid water and letting it sit for 10 minutes to see if it bubbles. It not, you’ve found the culprit (!)

  • Dawson
    December 23, 2019 11:03pm

    Really awful recipe. I followed the directions, but mine didn’t rise, although my yeast is good. Nevertheless, I baked it according to directions. A dense heavy brick resulted. The taste was dreadful. Tossed the whole thing in the garbage. Sorry I wasted the ingredients.

    • December 24, 2019 9:24am
      David Lebovitz

      Sorry you had trouble with the recipe. I made it three times and the only time I had an issue was when I forgot to add the yeast to a batch. But it came out as shown in the pictures.

  • Jaime
    December 29, 2019 6:58am

    Hi! Can you please tell us what role the yeast plays in this dough? Since it has no gluten, I don’t understand how it helps it rise. thanks!

  • jen
    January 2, 2020 11:56pm

    Hi David,
    Corn is a grain. So, though this may be gluten-free, it is not grain-free.
    Looking forward to making and eating it!

  • borah ahn
    January 12, 2020 8:47am

    flax seeds are near impossible and ridiculously expensive to buy here, are they replacing eggs to make this vegan? if so can i use eggs and how many?

    • January 12, 2020 11:39am
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve not done it but there are tips here on how to make the equivalent of 1 egg, from flax seeds. So you could reverse that recipe, taking into account the quantity of flax seeds listed in this recipe, and try using that. (Chia seeds are also sometimes used. An internet search will probably also land on some tips for swapping those out.) I haven’t tried either, but if you do, let us know how it turns out!