Saturday, August 16, 2014

BBB stay in Italy for another month

Isn't it wonderful that we get to bake Italian for another month. I love that, thanks to our delightful hostess of this month Elizabeth ("Blog from our kitchen") who chose this recipe for Babes and Buddies to bake. I've been home a forthnight now after a three week stay in Italy. It took a while to get back to normal again, very busy clearing the holiday laundry load and in and out of shops to get new clothes, shoes and schoolgear for the coming school year. Our boy has grown so fast and is not stopping any time soon. Big big shoes. All made a bit harder by a lot of pain in my hips, that made it impossible to stand in the kitchen after having dragged myself past the shops. It's been bothering me for a while and it seems to get worse, especially after having walking so much in Italy. But all is bought, done and fixed... 

...I'm getting off track here, just wanting to say I didn't know if I'd get to making this bread. I made the starter twice, but then the next day there wasn't any time to finish the thing. I managed to back it yesterday finally. It's a very light and fluffy bread, I like that kind of bread once in a while, eventhough I used only white flour.
I used a little less water, for the dough became too sloppy and I baked it a higher temperature (230ºC) with steam using an oven stone, so it was able to have a nice oven rise. I like this bread, it's fluffyness, You can eat it like a sandwich, but it's really good to toast it too. 

I'm glad I was able to bake it in time, I'm sure you'd like to bake along with us and become a Bread Baking Buddy and taste this delicious bread for yourself. Send a picture of the result, tell us what your thoughts are and send it to our Kitchen of the month Elizabeth with "BBB august 2014 bread in the subject line. ( Deadline 29th of this month, Have fun baking.
Polenta Bread
(makes 2 loaves)
(PRINT recipe)
The afternoon before:
tiny Biga 

9 g water
1/16 tsp active dry yeast
11 g unbleached all-purpose flour

The evening before:
60 g water
1/16 tsp active dry yeast
all of the Biga
100 g unbleached all-purpose flour

The morning of:
35 g cornmeal aka polenta, coarsely ground 
175 g cold water

The morning of: 
390 g water
1/8 tsp active dry yeast
265 g unbleached all-purpose flour
335 g unbleached bread flour
all of the starter
18 g salt
all of the cooled polenta
cornmeal, for garnish

Tiny Biga: In the early afternoon of the day before you are baking the bread, whisk the yeast with warm 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. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter, out of drafts, to ferment.

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.

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. If you have a microwave oven, 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. Once the polenta is made, remove it from the pot to a plate or shallow container and put it into the fridge to cool.

Mixing the dough: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the dough yeast with warm water until it has dissolved.
Add the starter (that should have doubled and be quite bubbly). Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flours  and salt. It might be pretty sloppy. Or not. It might just be shaggy.

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.
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.

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. Put each loaves seam-side up in a banneton, tightly woven basket or colander. Cover each one with a mixing bowl  or plastic and allow them to rise on the counter until almost double.

Preheat: Put a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat to 220-230ºC.

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.

Baking: Liberally spray the tops of the loaves with water. Using a peel, slide them onto the hot stone and bake for about 30-40 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 around 96ºC. Allow the baked bread to cool completely before cutting into it. It's still baking inside! .

(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)


Elle said...

Fluffy and gorgeous Lien! You even got the perfect spiral. I like that it has those holes, even though you used less water. Beautiful photos, too.

Elizabeth said...

I KNEW your spiral would be perfect, Lien! And the crumb looks lovely. (I don't dare to show my husband your photos; he is always asking why I don't ever make light and fluffy bread.)

Hmmm, next time, perhaps I should try using less water.

Lien said...

it was just a little less water (about 40 ml), because our ap-flour has less protein than the overseas flour.

Jamie said...

Good golly, Lien, your round loaf is perfect! What a gorgeous crust and rise! I am jealous... and I am also jealous you got to go to Italy on vacation.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Well, Lien I can see that I give us all that lightness and beautiful holes when I use the whole wheat I do. That really is gorgeous!
I really need another Italian holiday after reading this.

Katie Zeller said...

I don't know what makes me more jealous - your 3 weeks in Italy or this gorgeous bread! Hope the hips improve....

Karen said...

A three week stay in Italy. Sigh.... I'll try not to be jealous! Your bread looks so perfect!!

Cathy (Bread Experience) said...

What a beautiful loaf and your scoring is lovely. The crumb looks so good that now I want to make some more.