Polenta Bread

Polenta bread

I have had some problems with focusing lately, my mind has been sprouting in every possible direction and never in the same and this has obviously had effects on my daily life which is the reason to why I post this month’s Bread Baking Babes bread one day late. I never remembered to make the starters on the days it suited me and the Others so in the end here we are, a day late. i really wanted to bake this bread because I cannot resist a bread with corn flour or as in this case, polenta flour. This month Elizabeth from blog from OUR kitchen has the Babe duty and she gave us a bread that she has adapted a Maggie Glazer recipe, she has substituted the sourdough starter with a normal one, something I appreciate as I’m not that fond of sourdough bread unless the sourdough is a very good one and in this house they tend to turn very sour, but as you can see in the recipe, you can choose to do as you please. I have copied Elizabeth’s recipe almost as she gave it to us because I couldn’t do it any better and I also think her incredible personality shines through it!

Polenta bread-2

It is an incredible bread, and if you only remember to do the starters, it is a very easy bread to bake as well. If you choose to bake it as a Bread Baking Buddy, you better click over to Elizabeth’s blog to get all the information. I do recommend you to bake it, I’m sure it will become a favourite of yours too!

Bake My Day – Karen
Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire – Katie
blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
Feeding my enthusiasms – Elle
girlichef – Heather
Life’s A Feast – Jamie
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies – Natashya
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie Van Lien – Lien
My Diverse Kitchen – Aparna
Bread Experience – Cathy

Polenta bread-3


BBB Polenta Bread
inspiration: Della Fattoria’s Polenta Bread on p.118-119 in “Artisan Baking Across America: the Breads, the Bakers, the Best Recipes” by Maggie Glezer

The afternoon before:
tiny Biga 

  • 9g(9ml) water at 95F
  • 0.25g(1/16tsp) active dry yeast
  • 11g(4tsp) unbleached all-purpose flour

The evening before:

  • 60g(60ml) water at 95F
  • 0.25g(1/16tsp) active dry yeast
  • 20g(4tsp) fermented sourdough all of the Biga
  • 100g(2/3c) unbleached all-purpose flour

The morning of:

  • 35g(3Tbsp) cornmeal aka polenta, coarsely ground
  • 175g(175ml) cold water

The morning of: 

  • 390g(390ml) water at 80F
  • 0.5g(1/8tsp) active dry yeast
  • 265g(1.75c) unbleached all-purpose flour
    » 200g(1.6c) unbleached all-purpose flour
    » 60g(0.5c) whole wheat flour
    » 5g(1.5tsp) flax seeds, finely ground
  • 335g(2.25c) unbleached bread flour
    » 10g(2tsp) vital wheat gluten
    » 325g(2c + 3Tbsp) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • all of the starter
  • 18g(1Tbsp + 0.75tsp) 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. 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 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 warm water in a medium-sized bowl until it has dissolved. 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 if thick – about 5 minutes. Apparently, if you have a microwave oven (we don’t), you can put the water and polenta into a microwavable container and cook it at high for 4 minutes, stir it and continue to cook for 2 minutes more. (It seems like it is way easier to use the stove rather than the microwave.) Once the polenta is made, remove it from the pot to a plate or shallow container and put it into the fridge to cool.
  4. Mixing the dough: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the dough yeast with warm water until it has dissolved.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 cover the bowl with a plate to rest.
  7. After about 20 minutes, turn and fold the dough a few times. Notice that it is significantly smoother. Cover the bowl with a plate and set it aside in the oven with only the light turned on 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.
  8. 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 loaves seam-side up in a brotform, tightly woven basket or colander. 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.
  9. Preheat: Put a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat to 375F.
  10. 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.
  11. 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!