Polenta Bread

Posted on September 28, 2010


It occured to me that some of you may be getting bored of my monthly bread baking posts for Fresh From the Oven. So I will try to keep it brief and breezy but I won’t be offended if you don’t look at it.

Stop looking. You don’t need to see this.

Are you still here?

For goodness sake…this ones not even cooked!


Seriously, turn away now as I am about to write the technical bit.

September’s recipe was for Polenta Bread and it was hosted by Becky at Fraxnits. I think we were all daunted by the 3 provings that this one needed so I set aside a quiet day to make it.

I found the dough very, very wet once I added the cooked polenta, and I had to add many handfuls of flour to get it workable. The first two kneads were more like ‘stirs’ but that usually makes for a good loaf in my opinion.

I realised quite late in the day that I hadn’t got the pine nuts that are supposed to be sautéed in butter and folded into the dough. I was not in the mood to go back to the shops. I texted my new neighbour Alasdair, but there was no reply, I rang another neighbour, Libby, but no, she had no pine nuts, so I carried on and shaped my loaf.

Then at the eleventh hour Al rang back to say he had been at the zoo all day but yes, he had pine nuts in stock! Praise the lord.

That is why my loaf has some on top and non within.

No matter though, it got eaten in a matter of hours, first with butter and then toasted with marmalade. It really does make fantastic toast. I will definitely try adding polenta to a loaf again as it does give a great flavour and crunch. I might just try adding it to one of my regular loaves.

[I have subsequently made several batches of a very standard 500g dough with my usual 2 proves and an added 50g of cooked buttery polenta. It makes a fabulous bread and you can use half the batch for pizza and half for a soft loaf or great breadsticks/doughballs]

Here’s the italian based recipe which is from ‘Bread’ by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter.

Polenta Bread

50g polenta
300ml lukewarm water
15g fresh yeast [I used a 7g sachet of instant yeast]
1/2 tsp clear honey
225g white bread flour
25g butter
3 tbsp pine nuts
1 and 1/2 tsp salt

For the topping:

1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water
pine nuts for sprinkling

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.