"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude." Julia Child

Thursday, May 16, 2013

polenta bread

This delicious loose crumbed bread pairs well with just about anything.

Yield: 1 very large loaf
1,940 calories per loaf
Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: Overnight proof required, about 17 hours

5/8 cup almond milk (this is equivalent to 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons)
1 1/8 cup water
1 teaspoon yeast
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups high gluten flour
1 cup polenta

the day before:
1. In a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup, combine the lukewarm water and milk. Heat, in the microwave, for about 1 minute. The mixture should feel warm, not scalding hot.

2. Add the yeast and a pinch of sugar to the milk mixture. Set aside for 10 minutes.  If your milk and water mixture was too hot, the yeast will die and you won't see any foam develop during the 10 minute fermentation. That said, given the small amount of yeast called for, you won't see a lot of foam.

3. In your stand mixer bowl, combine the flour, polenta, and salt. "Stir" to combine the ingredients.

4. Slowly add in the milk mixture and knead, on "stir" until a cohesive dough forms, about 5 minutes. If your stand mixer can knead the dough on '2' after the shaggy mass forms (the photo on the left), go for it. Mine sounded like it was going to burn out, so I opted not to push it.

5. Turn the dough out onto your counter top and knead by hand a few turns, forming a ball.

6. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and put in the fridge to proof overnight.

the day of:
7. Remove the dough from the fridge and punch it down. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until it has doubled in size, about 3 hours.

8. Turn the dough out onto your counter top and knead by hand for about 30 seconds.

9. Shape into into a loaf, place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

10. With about 30 minutes remaining in the final proof, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

11. Arrange a water bath. See step 9 of "carbs, glorious carbs" for more on water baths.

12. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, decreasing the oven temperature to 400 and baking until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped, about 35 minutes. 

Other modifications:
  • This was a mammoth sized loaf, even though I halved the original recipe. I recommend forming two loaves, in step 9, which will decrease the baking time and make this loaf more manageable. 
  • Use an egg wash to give the loaf a shiny sheen. 

Original recipe found here.

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