Polenta Bread

Add variety to your diet with Valentina Harris's deliciously simple loaf incorporating polenta, Northern Italy's beloved maize meal
By Valentina Harris
Polenta Bread
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2 medium-sized loaves
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes plus standing and rising time
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

  • 40 g fresh yeast
  • 400 ml warm water
  • pinch granulated sugar
  • 250 g strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 250 g fine polenta
  • sea salt
  • 2-3 tsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing

Method

1. Mix the yeast and water together in a jug, then add the sugar and about 2 tablespoons of the strong white flour.

2. Put the yeast mixture somewhere warm to activate for about 30 minutes, or until the yeast mixture is fizzing gently and has formed something of a head, like on a glass of ginger beer.

3. Tip both flours onto a clean worktop and make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture and knead it energetically into the flour, adding a little more water if required. Add the salt and oil and knead hard for about 10 minutes.

4. Transfer the soft, elastic, slightly shiny dough to a large floured bowl. Oil a piece of cling film and place it oil-side down over the dough. Set aside in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.

5. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas 7.

6. Pull the dough apart into 2 sections with well-oiled hands and shape into rough rounds or whatever shape you like - long and narrow, braided, rounded, oval etc. Then stroke all the surfaces gently with a handful of olive oil and water, mixed together.

7. Lay them on to a well-oiled baking sheet scattered with coarse semolina or polenta to cause an air pocket to form under the dough, to the desired thickness and bake at 220°C /gas mark 6, for about 15 minutes or dependant entirely on the size of the loaf, more or less time. Tap the bottom of the bread and listen for a hollow ring to let you know it is cooked through.

8. Cool on a wire rack to allow the steam to escape before serving.

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