Polenta bread, sourdough

Giorgio Locatelli’s Made in Italy has spent quite a while in the ‘cookbooks I don’t use often’ stack. Not to say that I have never used it, the favourite pasta and risotto recipes have long been committed to memory and as I type this, ragu is slowly simmering over in the kitchen. I got the book out the other day to have a look at ice cream recipes and promptly got frustrated as they all contain ingredients like dextrose and inverted sugar. Ingredients that I’m not particularly interested in having in my kitchen. I left the ice cream recipes alone and looked through the rest of the book. Italian bread! Completely forgotten about the lovely Italian breads that Locatelli gives recipes for. Polenta bread appealed particularly because it is made with cooked polenta and uses biga – which is quite similar to sourdough starter as well as fresh yeast. I thought I could just make it with sourdough starter, no yeast and give it a longer rising time. Here is the end result:

IMG_0541

I didn’t take any photos of the cut bread but have tried it and it is absolutely wonderful. Really good crumb and a surprisingly soft texture inside. I really was surprised because the whole thing was a bit touch and go to be honest. The recipe uses cooked polenta and following Locatelli’s instructions, this polenta turned out to be very dry. I grew up eating polenta so was mildly horrified by this, but in the mixer it went along with the other ingredients, hoping for the best. The dough was not elastic, it was rather sticky and tough and I was a bit worried about the whole thing. I also ended up with a big split in the second loaf – the dough wasn’t all that pliable. This is why I am so surprised at the final texture and taste – not dense, quite springy and light. Slightly baffled…

I’d like to post the method as I did it quite differently to Locatelli in the end but considering that I am slightly baffled, think I’ll do the bread again and adjust some of the quantities first. Am sure you can get better elasticity by making polenta slightly less dry. And, I’ve also made a mental note of hazelnut paste made according to Locatelli then used as flavouring for a simple, custard based ice cream.

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