Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Cornmeal Cookies

So many bloggers have been making breads this year (in large part due to Celia from Fig Jam & Lime Cordial who has sent her sourdough starter around the globe).  I feel a bit recalcitrant, as there is a little pouch of dried starter sitting in my drawer waiting for me to get on with it, now!  And here we are this month delving into Carol Field's The Italian Baker. I jumped onto the old Google monster, and did a bit of research on this book as I don't own a copy and didn't fancy buying one as I am not a big bread maker obviously.:)

Rather a lot of people were disparaging about this book and its recipes, to my surprise. They said the recipes didn't give enough detail, and that some of them just didn't work.   I decided to look for a non-bread recipe and came across this one for cornmeal cookies. I always have some polenta in the pantry for muffins and loaves (you know, the easy non-bread type loaves), so this one was a no-brainer for me.  I am joining in with other bloggers for this month's The Cookbook Guru Book Club, where brave and intrepid cooks storm the bastions of the culinary world, one book at a time. Or maybe like me, they just limp along carrying the ladders:)

(Makes around 30 large walnut-sized cookies; Carol says it makes 50!)


90g. dried fruit - currants/sour cherries/cranberries etc - (chop bigger fruit to currant size)

20g. plain flour
155g. butter at room temp.
120g. caster sugar
2 large eggs at room temp.
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
210g. plain flour
140g. polenta (cornmeal)
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp sea salt


Toss the dried fruit and the 20g. of flour together in a small bowl - put aside
Throw the softened butter and the sugar into a food processor (or beat with a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl) till smooth and creamy.  This is best done by pulsing rather than continuous blending, till the mixture is blended well together
Add in the eggs one by one and pulse till you have a smooth mixture - do not despair if your batter now looks curdled and akin to scrambled eggs - it will be fine!
Add the vanilla extract and pulse briefly again
Spoon out into a large bowl and give it a good stir with a wooden spoon
Grab a separate medium bowl; throw in the flour, polenta, baking powder and salt - and whisk!
Mix these dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients very well - you will have a fairly dry and stiff dough
Stir in the dried fruit and flour mixture
Form the dough into a rectangle about 10 x 18cm
Swaddle like a baby in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about an hour till firm
Take it out of the fridge, unwrap and cut it down the middle lengthwise
Cut off small walnut-sized shapes and roll into balls, or just cut into small squares
Place them on baking-paper lined trays at even intervals
Flatten gently with a fork
Bake for about 12 minutes at 170C, rotating the trays after 6 mins.
(depending on your oven and your ball size, it could take longer -  mine took about 17 minutes)
When they look very light brown on top, take them out
Cool on the trays for 10 mins, then place on wire racks till completely cold
(or if you are Mr P., grab one or 2 while still warm)

This looks like a heap of instructions but it is really quite simple, especially if using the food processor (or a stand mixer as Carol suggests).  She also gives a bit of info. about freezing the dough; in fact that is her primary course rather than just baking them straightaway.  She says you can wrap the cylinders of dough and freeze them till you want to bake them.  She then suggests slicing them into 1/4 inch slices (once they have defrosted a bit I guess), and baking them for the same amount of time.  That is helpful info, but I would have thought that should be a footnote rather than the "baking now" instructions.


tossing dried fruit and flour together   

tip butter and caster sugar into the food processor  

creamed and ready for the eggs  

popping in that first egg  

yes it looks curdled but don't worry - it turns out just fine   

dry ingredients 

mixing in the dry ingredients   

stir in the dried fruit - you will have a firm and fairly dry dough  

spoon the dough out onto plastic wrap   

push the dough into a loaf shape about 10 x 18cm  

okay so I measured it out!  but you don't have to do that  

after an hour just chillin' in the fridge, dissect it:)    

form little walnut-sized balls (or bigger if you like)  

flatten them gently with a fork after placing on lined baking trays  

take them out of the oven when lightly golden brown - mine took 17 minutes to bake 

yep doodling again!  this is my currant-y cookie doodle :)  


  1. I haven't bought a cookbook in ages because there was a stage where so many recipes didn't work. I got so mad and frustrated! I find blogs more reliable.

    1. funny you say that lorraine!:) i have tried a few recipes from books lately and they don't work very well. i keep thinking surely they have tested these before publishing?

  2. Yum! I wish I had these with my cup of tea right now. Perfect weather to enjoy cookies :)

    1. hi Jem
      these are very light and not too sweet and with a slight crunch from the cornmeal. they turned out better than i expected:)

  3. Your cookies look fantastic and I love how they have dried fruit in them to sweeten them up. Your step-by-step images are very helpful xx

    1. Thanks Charlie. The winter light makes it difficult with photos sometimes:)

  4. Polenta and butter - you can't go too far wrong with that!

    1. Hi Fiona
      Yes I was quite pleased and surprised how well they turned out.

  5. What an interesting cookie! I've used a ton of cornmeal but never put any in a cookie.

    1. Hi Maureen
      It gives the cookie just a bit of crunch. Very tasty.

  6. We must be reading the same reviews - Sherry:-)

    1. yes there were quite a few negative ones on the Net. perhaps because people seem to like to whinge when they are online:)

  7. Hi Sherry, these look tasty. The title, 'The Italian Baker' covers all sorts of things that are baked- breads, cakes, biscuits,leftover bread products, pastry and so on. So if you ever get to see this book, you might enjoy it as the bread section is about half of the book.
    I love this book which is why I recommended it. I find the recipes very precise and all the things I have made from it to date have been wonderful. I think the real joy of the book, however, are the prefaces to each chapter and recipe, which talk about the Italian origins and give historical background. I find the book a very good read- it isn't just about the recipes but the virtual tour of Italy. For this reason alone, the book is worth buying as these features are unavailable from the internet.

    1. ah yes i always like to read the prefaces to recipes as the author often has stories to tell. I guess there are often negative comments on the Net about things as people like to whinge:) the cookies worked out well i must say.

  8. Hi Sherry, Your cookies look wonderful. This recipe does not seem to be in my version of the book.

    1. hi there
      i found this recipe on the Net which said it came from that book. maybe a different edition? cheers sherry.


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