Corn bread recipe is not unique. Indeed, several variations exist and all involve the addition of a few ingredients than the original. In the area around my hometown, near Venice, corn has been largely cultivated for centuries.
During and after the Second World War, corn was the cheapest and most available flour in the area (most of the time polenta was the only food) so it was mixed with wheat flour to make bread.
Unfortunately corn flour is not good for baking because it has no gluten and it is very heavy. It cannot rise and hold the shape! I even tried to mix water, corn flour and yeast, but the result looks like dry polenta more than bread. It must be mixed with some other flour.
Here is a recipe that is close to the tradition and looks like real bread with 35% of corn. I didn't use corn "fioretto" flour here as stated in corn bread recipe, because I couldn't find it. I used regular corn polenta flour, but I think it would be better with corn meal. Anyway this bread is good, crispy crust and soft crumb, a bit yellowish because of the corn and a gentle taste of pop corn. Sourdough can help to make it soft!
Ingredients for one loaf
Step 1: Refresh the sourdough with the same quantity of water and bread flour. Add one spoon of corn flour too. Let it rise for one hour and half to get a nicely leavened corn bread.
Step 2: Mix the leaven with half of the water and the wheat flour. Let it rest 40 minutes (autolise). Warm up the rest of the water. In another bowl mix the warm water (to absorb faster) with corn flour, oil and salt. When the corn dough is cold, incorporate the two doughs and knead with a mixer for 10 minutes. In case the dough will be still too liquid, only now start to add flour slowly and mix 5 minutes more.
Step 3: Tip the dough on a bowl. Fold every side to the center like an anvelope. Cover the bowl and let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
Step 4: Fold it again as the previous step and tip the dough with the seam down. Cover a pan with baking paper and put the dough gently over the pan (or use a basket with a towel if you are used to it). Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise at least 3-4 hours (even a whole night, but much less if you use yeast)
Step 5: Preheat the oven at 260 °. Cut the surface of the dough with a razor blade. Put it in the oven and turn the temperature down to 220°. Cook for 45 minutes. For the first 20 minutes leave a pot of water in the oven to make steam then take it out.
According to corn bread recipe and tradition, it's great eaten warm and accompanied by a bit of sausage or cheese.