A few weeks back, my Aunt Marilyn sent me a new roll recipe that uses cornmeal and milk as the base. Enter: major skepticism. But I trust my Aunt implicitly, so I gave them a go. Before I offer my verdict, let me explain that I don’t need a new roll recipe. I have several that I love and use all the time. I’d much rather spend my time looking for new double-chocolate-anything recipes than roll recipes.
But let me tell you, these cornmeal crescent rolls have skyrocketed to my new favorites. I feel slightly disloyal to my other faves, but the truth cannot be withheld. They are deliciously unreal.
If making them six times (yes, six!) in the last three weeks, including making 100 of them for a church function, is any indication, then yes, they are my new favorites.
Light, flaky and absolutely soft and tender, these rolls are decadent in their butteryness and while you can’t taste the cornmeal as a main, strong flavor, the subtle texture and lightness it provides is essential to the success of these beauties.
I can’t stop making them. I really can’t. Please, oh please, someone join me in my happy carb-induced nirvana.
Note: if you need/want to use active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, change the amount of yeast to 2 tablespoons active dry and dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let the yeast mixture activate and foam (approximately 5 minutes) before adding it to the cornmeal mixture with the butter and 1/3 cup sugar.
Also, as with all yeast doughs, I never use the flour amount called for in the recipe as a hard fast rule (unless a weight measure is given and then I pull out my kitchen scale). Because humidity, temperature, altitude and a multitude of other factors can impact how much flour you need in your yeast doughs, I always judge when to quit adding flour by the texture and look and feel of the dough rather than how much flour I’ve added compared to the recipe. This tutorial on yeast may help identify how a perfectly floured dough should be.
Lastly, I often use half to 3/4 finely ground white whole wheat flour with good results - and sometimes I get crazy and use 100% whole wheat flour (always finely ground white wheat) but the bread is a bit more dense with 100% whole wheat flour. If using part or all whole wheat flour, add a few minutes to the kneading time to help develop the gluten.
- 2 cups milk
- 2/3 cup yellow corn meal
- 1 ½ tablespoons instant yeast
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 5 ½ – 6 cups flour (see note)
- Heat the milk to just below a boil so bubbles are just appearing around the edges (this is called scalding milk). Add the cornmeal and cook and stir until thickened, lowering the temperature if needed so the mixture doesn’t boil (see picture below the recipe for an idea of what the consistency should be). Pour the cornmeal/milk mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl and let cool until lukewarm. Add the yeast, butter and sugar (if you dissolved active dry yeast with a bit of water and sugar until it foamed, add it now). Mix. Add the salt and eggs. Mix well. Add the flour gradually until a soft dough forms. Knead for 5-8 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl covered with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
- Divide the dough into three portions and roll each into about an 8-10 inch circle. Brush the top lightly with butter. Cut into 8 wedges and roll each wedge up starting from the wide end so it forms a crescent roll shape. Place each roll on a lightly greased or silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 1-2 inches apart to allow for rising. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap. Let the rolls rise until doubled.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Brush with butter while still warm.
Recipe Source: adapted slightly from my Aunt Marilyn who got the recipe from her friend, Anne K.
Here is a picture of what the consistency of the cornmeal/milk mixture should look like when it is done cooking and thickening.