Polenta Bread Recipe

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It’s definitely homemade soup and toast weather at the moment especially with the threat promise of snow which hangs over each day at the moment.

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Back in the summer I bought this huge bag of cornmeal, aka polenta, to make a lemon polenta cake when we had guests here for lunch. Since then it’s sat in the pantry neglected really, apart from the first time I tried this polenta bread recipe. Yesterday seemed the perfect opportunity to bake some more and I’m so glad I did as it’s really delicious.

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This is the bread recipe book I use most. I first borrowed a copy from the library to try a few recipes. This had such good reviews on Amazon UK, and I was still using recipes I’d photocopied, that it seemed daft to ask for any other book for my birthday last year. A good decision as I haven’t had a disappointing loaf yet!

I thought I’d share the polenta bread recipe with you in case you have need for a soup and bread meal too.

Polenta Bread

Makes 1 loaf
Preparation time: 15 minutes + proving + 25 minutes
Freezing: Recommended

“Polenta (or maize flour) has a slightly grainy texture and a vivid yellow colour that makes an everyday loaf a little more interesting”

350g (12oz) strong white bread flour
115g (4oz) polenta, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fast action dried yeast
25g (1oz) butter, melted
275-300ml (9-10 fl oz) hand-hot water

1) Combine the flour, polenta, sugar, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and water and mix to a soft dough.
2) Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth. Cover and prove in a warm place until doubled in size.
3) Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with polenta.
4) Knock back the dough and shape into an 18cm (7″) long oval. Place on the baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, make deep cuts on alternate sides of the loaf.
5) Cover and prove until doubled in size.
6) Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7 / 220oc / 425of
7) Sprinkle liberally with polenta and bake for about 25 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

From Women’s Institute Bread: Over 100 Easy-to-Make Recipes by Liz Herbert.

** I didn’t have any butter so used a tablespoon of olive oil this time. It worked well, although the slightly buttery taste is best. I use my Kenwood mixer and dough hook, so cut down kneading time by half (to around 5 minutes). To knock back the dough I give it a quick whizz again in the mixer. In the winter the warmest place for proving is the airing cupboard, so put the covered (cling film) mixing bowl there. Typically it takes an hour, to an hour and a half to double the first time. I put the oven on to heat after about 30-40 minutes, while the dough proves the second time, then it’s reached temperature by the time the dough has doubled.”**

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Polenta bread is best eaten fresh, when it’s moist and the knife slides through each slice as if it’s butter. It seems to go stale quite fast, but that’s no matter as it makes the crunchiest, tastiest toast. Perfect with chilli and lentil soup! Here’s the soup recipe.

What are you enjoying cooking and eating at the moment?

Artisan Bread

I’ve seen this recipe on Pinterest numerous times but find that I tend to pin away without actually going back to browse my recipes or patterns enough. A very good prompt, to actually make whatever it is, is when you see someone else has successfully had a go. I bet £1,000 that there’s no one reading this (apart from perhaps five people?) who haven’t seen Lucy’s Attic 24 post on this recipe this week.

I won’t rehash the recipe since it’s all there, plus the blog post on Simply So Good who seems to originally have brought the recipe (from a US newspaper article I think) to the blogosphere.

Here’s my loaf, baked today, straight out of the oven. You can almost smell the aroma can’t you?
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Although online notes about the recipe caution against using wholemeal flour, because the bread can be rather heavy, I didn’t know this last night. Since I had a half used bag of strong wholemeal bread flour in the pantry anyway I grabbed it, before quickly mixing the dough in my Kenwood and heading off to bed.
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It’s not the lightest bread in the world, but it’s fine – much lighter than rye or pumpernickel. You can see the air holes in the loaf. It gives a nice hollow sound when you tap it on the bottom (which you do to check it’s done near the end of the cooking process.) I cooked it in one of those white ceramic pyrex dishes with a glass lid. In my fierce oven 30 minutes was enough to bake the loaf and give a nice crust, without it needing an additional 15 minutes uncovered.
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We’re really looking forward to toasting some for breakfast and eating with blackcurrant preserve in the morning. I’m going to try making some more using strong plain bread flour soon, and will probably experiment with seeds, nuts or fruits in subsequent loaves.
This recipe (if you needed any more encouragement to try) is really great. I have made bread before but it’s so time consuming and this is a really good way to short-cut the process. Try a wholemeal version, or add some wholemeal flour to white to make a mixture and let me know what you think.

As the oven was on, and I’ve already lost the extra Christmas poundage this week, I decided 20140110-134323.jpgto make some of our favourite oat and raisin cookies. Actually they’re oat and sultana this time as it’s what we had. It’ll be salad for dinner!!!

Anyway: Make the bread, make the bread, make the bread! And, have a great weekend.

11/01/14 the bread has been pronounced a big success, especially when it’s toasted as it has a lovely crunchy crust that apparently rivals the local bakery’s sourdough. High praise!