The amount of flour required here is more open-ended than other recipes because of a few variables in making this bread. Depending on how long the cornmeal is left to absorb the water, you will need more or less flour for kneading.
Yields 2 loaves
Recipe courtesy of Simon Thibault, Pantry and Palate
3/4 cup (177 ml) cornmeal, plus 1 tbsp for dusting
2 tsp (10 ml) sugar
3 tsp (15 ml) lard or vegetable shortening
2 cups (500 ml) boiling water
1/3 cup (78 ml) room temperature water
2 tsp (10 ml) yeast
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
1/2 cup (125 ml) molasses
4 to 5 cups (1000 ml to 1250 ml) flour, plus 1 tbsp (15 ml) for dusting
Mix cornmeal, sugar, and lard. Add the boiling water and mix thoroughly to eliminate any lumps. Cool for about 45 minutes.
Cornmeal will expand and look somewhat like porridge. Ensure the porridge is cool enough for yeast to activate. Too hot can kill yeast.
In room-temperature water, thoroughly mix yeast and baking soda. Add to cornmeal porridge, then add salt and molasses. Mix until well blended.
Stir in flour 1 cup (250 ml) at a time, incorporate completely before adding more. After incorporating third cup flour, dough should start to come together, pulling away from bowl sides.
Turn dough out onto floured surface, and dust with more flour to start kneading.
With flour-dusted hands, gather the dough into large ball and knead. Dough will be slightly tacky at first.
Keep adding small amounts of flour as you knead it. Dough will become smooth and not tacky, and will feel taut and less elastic as you knead.
Place dough in a clean bowl, cover with cling film, and allow to rest for about 45 minutes. Take dough out and knead gently for about 1 minute. It will feel very elastic compared to prior kneading.
Place back in bowl to rise for about 1 hour.
Grease pans with lard, and dust with 1 tbsp (10 ml) flour and 1 tsp (5 ml) cornmeal. Remove dough from bowl, cut in half.
Gently pinch dough ends to shape loaf. Place each loaf in greased and floured loaf pan. Allow to rise for another hour.
Preheat your oven to 204°C (400°F). Place bread into oven and bake 1 hour.
Remove bread from the oven and remove loaves from pans.
Bread should sound hollow when tapped on bottom. If not, return to oven for 10 minutes, without loaf pan.
Allow bread to cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.