BBB Polenta Bread: August 2014
Recipe from our Kitchen of the Month, Elizabeth (Blog from OUR Kitchen) used Della Fattoria’s Polenta Bread on p.118-119 in “Artisan Baking Across America: the Breads, the Bakers, the Best Recipes” by Maggie Glezer as her inspiration for this bread.
Yield: 2 loaves
There is just no way you’re not going to want to bake this one … especially if you let it rise in a brotform and cut circles in the top for the slash like it’s really suppose to be and like Elizabeth, Kitchen of the Month, and all the other Babes will show you how it should be done. They’ll probably follow the recipe a little closer than I did as well. Since I had several open bags of flour I’m trying to use before we take off from here, I didn’t use all purpose, I used Sir Lancelot flour, 9-grain blend, white whole wheat and sprouted whole wheat all from King Arthur Flour. I had no vital wheat gluten so that wasn’t used. I think using bread flour or any flour with higher gluten content would eliminate or at least reduce the need to add gluten to the dough. At least that was my reasoning and the bread rose very nicely.
All my taste testers were very happy with this one; asking for “the loaf you have to cut”. With beautiful summer tomatoes this bread was really glorious for sandwiches!
In the directions below, my comments/changes/actions are noted in blue.
BBB Polenta Bread
The afternoon before:
9 grams water at 95F
2 pinches active dry yeast
11 grams Sir Lancelot flour from KAF
The evening before:
60 grams water at 95F
2 pinches active dry yeast
20 grams fermented sourdough all of the Biga
100 grams Sir Lancelot flour from KAF
The morning of:
35 grams cornmeal aka polenta, coarsely ground
175 grams cold water
The morning of:
390 grams water at 80F
4 pinches active dry yeast
265 grams 9 grain blend from KAF + sprouted whole wheat
16 grams 5g(1.5tsp) flax seeds, finely ground
335 grams 135 grams Sir Lancelot flour from KAF + 200 grams white whole wheat
all of the starter
1 tablespoon salt
all of the cooled polenta
cornmeal, for garnish
1. Tiny Biga: In the early afternoon of the day before you are baking the bread, whisk the yeast with warm (~96F) water in a smallish bowl until it has dissolved. Or do what I do, whisk the yeast into the flour that will be used. Using a wooden spoon and/or your hands, mix in the small amount of flour until it is smooth (I kneaded it in my fingers for a few minutes). Cover the bowl with a plate or shower cap and leave on the counter, out of drafts, to ferment.
2. Starter: In the evening of the day before you are baking the bread, whisk the starter yeast with the starter flour, add the water and add the tiny biga that should be bubbling nicely. Using a wooden spoon and/or your hands, mix in the starter amount of flour until you have a smooth lump of dough. I kneaded it in my fingers for a few minutes.
3. Polenta: In the morning of the day you are baking the bread, pour cold water into a small pot on the stove at medium high heat. Add the polenta and using a wooden spoon, cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is thick – about 5 minutes. It only took 4 minutes total to cook in the microwave. Spread on a shallow plate and allow to cool. As you can see, I left my polenta to cool in the bowl, stirring it from time to time while I had my breakfast … of polenta & peppers.
4. Mixing the dough: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the dough yeast with warm water. I’m sorry but I pretty much always whisk the yeast into the flour I’ll be using and that’s what I did here as well. Mix until flour & liquid have dissolved.
Add the starter (that should have doubled and be quite bubbly). Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flours, ground flax and salt. “It might be pretty sloppy. Or not. It might just be shaggy.” I had to add more water to get a slightly shaggy moist dough … probably a half cup.
Kneading: Lay the cooled polenta on top of the dough. Plunge in with your hands to turn and fold the dough in the bowl, kneading until it’s smooth (5 to 10 minutes). When the dough is smooth, decide to continue your radical behaviour learned from wayward BBBabes and skip the washing and drying the mixing bowl step. Simply cover the bowl with a plate to rest. In my case, I cover a dough bowl with a shower cap because I don’t travel with my rising bucket with lid.
After about 20 minutes, turn and fold the dough a few times. Notice that it is significantly smoother. It was significantly smoother.
Cover the bowl with a plate or shower cap and set it aside – I put it in a cool spot in the basement as it was time for running errands, the fridge seemed too cool as this was looking like a slow riser – to rise until it has doubled. Don’t worry if it is quite sloppy. If it rises earlier than you expect, simply deflate the dough and allow it to rise again. This will just strengthen the dough. With that direction in mind, I folded the dough just as I was headed out the door.
5. Shaping: When you are ready to shape the bread, turn it out onto a lightly floured board and divide it into 2 pieces. Trying not to disturb the bubbles too much, shape into two rounds. Liberally spray the tops of the shaped loaves with water. Cover them with cornmeal. (Glezer suggests rolling the sprayed shaped loaves in the cornmeal placed on a plate.) Put each loaf seam-side up in a brotform, tightly woven basket or colander – my traveling kitchen does not allow for a brotform therefore that lovely swirl you’ll be seeing on the other Babe’s breads is not to be found here. I simply shaped mine into loaves and again used the shower cap to cover each loaf pan. Cover each one with a mixing bowl and allow them to rise on the counter (or in the oven with only the light turned on) until almost double.
6. Preheat: Put a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Slashing: Turn each loaf out of its container onto a square of parchment paper. Using a very sharp knife (or a razor of lamé if you have one), starting at the center of the loaf and holding the blade almost horizontally, carve a spiral into each loaf. Try not to freak out if the spirals look like vicious circles.
Baking: Liberally spray the tops of the loaves with water. Using a peel, slide them onto the hot stone and bake for about 40 minutes, turning them around once half way through baking, to account for uneven oven heat. The crust should be quite dark and the internal temperature should be somewhere between 200F and 210F.
Allow the baked bread to cool completely before cutting into it. It’s still baking inside! (Even if you’ve ignored the instructions about using hot water from the tap, please do not ignore this step.)
Please bake along with us and be a Buddy! For details see Elizabeth’s post
– oh wow did she ever get those swirls on her bread.
The all important crumb shot.