Gascon Sourdough Cornbread (Pain de Méture)
Corn is prevalent in Gascony, France, where it’s used to feed the region’s famous foie gras ducks. It’s also the star of this pain de méture, a Gascon cornbread made with sourdough and baked in a cast iron pan. This cabbage-leaf-lined version from New York-based baker Kamel Saci was tested by Saveur contributor Kate Hill, a cook and cooking instructor in the region, who loves the crispy bits of cabbage that sear around the bread’s edges.
Saci’s recipe uses a mix of sourdough starter for leavening and acidity and leftover fermented bread dough (pâte fermentée) for added depth of flavor. “I make a basic bread dough with my own sourdough starter, using starter, flour, and water,” Hill says, “My starter was well developed, but I also add a small amount of dried yeast as it’s important to have a vigorous dough to support the cornmeal mix.” For hurried home bakers who might not have several stages of preferments at the ready, Saci suggests substituting a good pre-made dough purchased from your local bread bakery or pizzeria. In France, Hill enjoys her pain de méture with soup, such as a garbure, and also with some Mont D’or cheese.
What You Will Need
- 4 cups corn flour, or substitute corn meal finely ground in a food processor
- 3 cups boiling water
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 850 grams Pâte fermentée or store-bought sourdough pizza dough
- 3 Large outer leaves from a large savoy cabbage
- Butter or duck fat, for greasing
- In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or in a large bowl mixing by hand, combine the water, corn flour, and salt, mixing until homogenous.
- Set aside to cool until the mixture registers about 140°F. Add the pâte fermentée or pizza dough and, using the dough hook on its lowest speed or mixing by hand, mix until homogenous.
- Remove the bowl and cover with a damp dish towel; let rest in a warm place for 1-2 hours until risen.
- Set a colander in the sink. In a large pot of boiling salted water, add the cabbage leaves; cook for 5 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the leaves; place them in the colander to drain well.
- Preheat the oven to 475°F. Grease the bottom and insides of 3 6-inch cast iron pots with lids. Line the bottom of each with a cabbage leaf.
- Spoon 600 grams of the dough into one of the pans and smooth with a spatula. Cover with the lid. Repeat with the remaining dough in the other two pans. Set aside and let the doughs rest in a warm place until it is slightly puffed, about 15-20 minutes.
- Transfer to the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out cleanly, 45 minutes to an hour.