This months challenge was hosted by Becky from Fraxknits, who challenged us to make a polenta loaf; a yeasted bread using polenta in place of some of the flour. Becky said that the addition of polenta makes the bread fantastic for toasting giving it lots of crunch.
Polenta Bread Recipe (From Bread by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter)
300ml lukewarm water
15g fresh yeast
1/2 tsp clear honey
225g white bread flour
3 tbsp pine nuts
1 and 1/2 tsp salt
For the topping:
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water
pine nuts for sprinkling
Makes 1 loaf
1. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Mix the polenta and 250ml of the water together in a pan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring continuously with a large wooden spoon. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, or until just warm.
2. In a small bowl, mix the yeast with the remaining water and honey until creamy/frothy (depending on the yeast being fresh/dry). Sift 115g of the flour into a larger bowl. Gradually beat in the yeast mixture, then gradually stir in the polenta mixture to combine. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
3. Cover the bowl with lightly oiled cling film and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for 2 hours or until it has doubled in bulk.
4. Melt the butter in a small pan add the pine nuts and cook over a medium heat, stirring, until the pale and golden. Set aside to cool.
5. Add the remaining flour and salt to the polenta dough and mix to a soft dough. Knead in the pine nuts cooked in butter (and the butter). Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
6. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
7. Knock back (punch down) and turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into two equal pieces and roll each piece into a fat sausage about 38 cm/15 inches long. Plait (braid) together the two pieces and place on the baking sheet. Cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F/ Gas Mark 6.
8. Mix the egg yolk and water and brush over the loaf. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and sounding hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.
Modifications: I shaped the loaf last thing in the evening and popped it into the fridge overnight for the last rise, so I could bake the bread for breakfst in the morning. This worked well and I remember doing exactly the same thing for the brioche that was last month’s challenge. I also left off the egg glaze as I far prefer my bread without it. The dough was quite sticky and needed a good handful of extra flour at the first kneading.
It was delicious hot from the oven spread with melting butter, the bread was, surprisingly, very white and also very soft. The loaf being the perfect size for 2 for 2 day’s breakfast. I will be making this one again, possibly without the pinenuts, or by adding some parmesan and/or herbs.
My thanks to Becky for a great challenge, that I would have never have thought of cooking for myself without being prompted.