Poilâne’s Corn Flour Bread
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.