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It's week two of "Breadgate" here at food52, and this second recipe is a real winner, folks. About a decade ago (yikes, has it really been that long?), I found myself working behind the counter of what was then an unassuming but highly respected local bakery in the South End of Boston. Flour was -- and is -- owned and run by a real slacker of a woman; Joanne Chang graduated from Harvard with a degree in Applied Math and Economics and then left her job as a management consultant to train as a pastry chef before opening her own bakery -- she also runs marathons and is an accomplished pianist, a gracious boss, and effortlessly gorgeous to boot. Sigh.
But I digress.
What was then a small neighborhood spot is now part of a burgeoning empire. In the past several years, Joanne has launched two more Flour locations in Boston and Cambridge, and in 2007 she opened a Chinese Restaurant, called Myers + Chang, with her husband. This fall, she published her first cookbook, Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe. In it, she shares the recipes for many of the pastries and breads I remember fondly from my days at Flour. My all-time favorite item (which turns out to be Joanne's favorite too, as I learned from the book), a chewy, seedy multigrain bread, is, alas, a yeast bread and would most likely test my limited bread skills -- not to mention my patience (I'll just have to get my fix every time I make it back to Boston). However, another bread I remembered well, cornbread with whole corn kernels and fresh thyme, fits the bill for this series perfectly.
Joanne's cornbread is tender and faintly sweet from a touch of brown sugar, and the thyme makes it smell absolutely incredible as it's baking. And the batter comes together in under ten minutes. That's my kind of bread recipe. Oh, and did I mention it calls for crème fraiche?
Double-Corn Corn Bread with Fresh Thyme
Makes about 12 squares
- 1 cup (200 grams) coarse yellow cornmeal
- 2 1/2 cups (350 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) canola oil
- 1/4 cup (55 grams) packed light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (240 grams) milk
- 3/4 cup (180 grams) crème fraiche
- 1 cup (160 grams) fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme