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This is a recipe that I remember from my earliest years, and that we've made many times since. When I was a little girl, we spent a great deal of time in a little village in mid-Massachusetts where my grandfather was minister and where he and my grandmother "ministered" to most of the town in one way or another. Their house, which I continue to have very intense dreams about, was a typical New England farmhouse that flowed from the parlors in the front on the street, back through the dining room (and my grandfather's study, where he wrote his sermons) to the kitchen with its kitchen table, my grandmother's loom with its clattering sound that will always be tied to her kitchen, the large pantry on the left, and her old woodstove. -- Brinna Sands
2 cups (16 ounces) water
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup (5 1/2 ounces) maple syrup (or molasses, or even honey)
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons regular instant yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups (8 ounces) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
4 to 4 1/2 cups (17 to 19 1/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 quarts (3 pounds) lard, vegetable shortening or vegetable oil
Pour the water into a saucepan and sprinkle in the cornmeal. Stirring constantly, bring the water to a boil and remove it from the heat. Stir in the maple syrup. If you're using butter, add it now while the mixture is hot. Allow to cool a bit. Blend the yeast and salt with the whole wheat flour and stir it into the cornmeal mixture; then add the 2 tablespoons of oil, if you're using it. Add 4 cups of the all-purpose flour and mix until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.
Turn out onto a flour-sprinkled kneading surface and knead for 3 or 4 minutes. Add enough more flour to give the dough body, but not enough to make it stiff. Let the dough rest while you wash, clean out and grease the bowl. Knead the dough another 3 or 4 minutes, place it in the bowl, cover, and let rise until it's doubled in bulk.*
*If you're planning to make fried bread for breakfast, put the dough to rise in a cool place and leave it overnight. It will be ready for you in the morning.
To cook the dough, heat a large pan with vegetable oil that's 2 or 3 inches deep until it's reached 365°F to 375°F. Pull or cut off golf ball-sized pieces of dough (somewhere between 1 and 1 1/2 ounces each). Don't try to smooth them out -- ragged is better. Drop them gently into the oil, leaving space for expansion. Flip them over when they're golden on one side (sometimes they're reluctant to stay turned over, but a couple of forks can usually persuade them by force). When you think they're done, remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel. Tear one open just to make sure they're cooked all the way through; sometimes they're not and need another minute or so back in the pan. If your clientele can wait, accumulate a pile on a plate in a warm oven. Then serve them along with butter, maple syrup, and perhaps a sausage or two. Yield: about 3 dozen.
Nutrition information per serving (1 piece, 40g): 85 cal, .9g fat, 2g protein, 14g complex carbohydrates, 3g sugar, 1g dietary fiber, 2mg cholesterol, 161mg sodium, 53mg potassium, 9RE vitamin A, 1mg iron, 27mg calcium, 39mg phosphorus.