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Joe Parke’s cornmeal sourdough

Made using one part cornmeal to three parts flour.

Photo © Joe Parke

Photo © Joe Parke

Joe is Head Chef at StarBistro near Cheltenham run by National Star, a charity that helps to enable people with disabilities to realise their potential as equal and active citizens who are in control of their lives

Joe says that the reasons he retards the dough for two hours before shaping are that: “it allows me time to do other tasks needed first thing in the kitchen, plus I find the dough easier to shape from the fridge, as it's a high hydration. It firms the dough and makes tensioning easier and final shaping easier.”

PS If you have created a gluten-free recipe for Real Bread (ie no xanthan gum, additives, baking powder etc.) made with cornmeal that you’d be happy for us to publish, please email it to us.

This recipe was published in April 2020 as part of the Real Bread Campaign's #LockdownLoafers initiative.


Makes 4 large loaves

1500g Strong white flour
500g Fine cornmeal/polenta
22g Salt
100g Rye starter (1:1 flour to water)
1600g Water, cool


Mix the flour, cornmeal and 1400g of the water and leave for 30 minutes to an hour. This is known as autolyse, which helps gluten formation.

Meanwhile, dissolve the salt in 100g of the remaining water and disperse the starter in the other 100g.

Knead the flour and water for around 20 minutes to make a smooth, stiff dough. Add the starter and salt mixtures to the dough and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and you can stretch it between your fingers to create a paper-thin, translucent ‘windopane’.

Transfer the dough into a large, greased container and cover.  Leave overnight in the coolest part of the kitchen until nearly doubled in height.

The next morning, put the dough in the fridge for two hours.

Divide the dough into pieces weighing 600g to 800g, depending on the size of your bannetons, pre-shape into balls, cover and rest for 30 minutes.

Dust the bannetons with rice flour. Shape the dough and gently place into the bannetons. Cover with oiled clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours and up to 24.

Place lidded casserole dishes or Dutch ovens into the oven and heat to its highest temperature.

Turn oven down to 230°C, transfer the dough into the casserole dishes, score the top of the dough, put the lids on and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the lids and continue baking for 15-20 minutes, depending on how dark you like your bread.

Remove the bread from the casserole dishes and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Baker’s tip

Joe says: “Due to the size of the dough, and to fit in with my daily routine, I use a dough mixer.” As an alternative method, he suggests that “you could make a sponge the day before with the cornmeal, water and your starter.”

Recipe © Joe Parke / StarBistro

Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the copyright holder.

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Published Monday 6 April 2020

Real Bread Campaign: The Real Bread Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Whether your interest is local food, community-focussed small enterprises, honest labelling, therapeutic baking, or simply tasty toast, everyone is invited to become a Campaign supporter.

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