2 ¼ C. warm water (110 to 120 degrees), divided
1/3 C. yellow cornmeal, medium ground
¼ C. granulated sugar
3 Tblsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. salt
4 ½ tsp. instant yeast [from 2 (1/4 oz.) packages]
6 to 6 ½ C. all-purpose flour
1-2 tsp. of canola oil for oiling the bowl prior to rise
1-2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1-2 Tbs. additional cornmeal
In a medium sauce pan, combine 1 3/4 C water, cornmeal, sugar, oil and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils, about 9-11 minutes. Cool the cornmeal mixture at room temperature until it tempers between 120-130 degrees F. Scoop the cornmeal mixture into a large mixing bowl.
Sprinkle the yeast over the remaining ½ cup of warm water. Allow the yeast to “bloom” for 5 minutes, or until it becomes frothy. Stir the yeast mixture into the cornmeal mixture to combine.
Add eggs to the mixture, whisking well to fully incorporate them to form a batter.
Gradually add the flour one-half cup at a time, mixing well in between additions, to make a soft dough. Turn dough onto floured cutting board or work surface. Knead the dough by hand until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. (The dough may also be kneaded for 2-3 minutes in the bowl of an electric stand mixer (set to medium-low speed) that has been fitted with a dough hook attachment.
Once the dough is elastic, tuck the top of the dough underneath it, turning it one-quarter turn, and repeat the process to form a smooth ball. Place dough ball into a large, lightly oiled bowl, turning it once to coat the top. Cover and the bowl first with plastic wrap, then a clean hand towel, and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in bulk, about 45 to 60 minutes. (I tend to use my microwave to proof the dough by placing the covered bowl inside of it and letting the dough rise inside.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Push down dough. Use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut dough into 16 equal pieces. Shape the pieces of dough into 16 balls. Place balls of dough about 4 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Slightly flatten the balls with the palm of your hand to better resemble buns rather than rolls. Brush each bun with melted butter and then sprinkle them with additional cornmeal.
Let the buns rise uncovered until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Bake the buns for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and crisp on the outside. Transfer the buns immediately to a wire rack to cool.