Polenta Bread Recipe (Sourdough)

 

Last updated on April 2nd, 2016 at 09:50 pm

I love polenta and it tastes awesome in bread. Here is my polenta bread recipe for a sourdough loaf with pumpkin and sunflower seeds inspired by Dan Lepard’s polenta bread in The Handmade Loaf.

Polenta bread slices
Check out the wonderful colour on these polenta bread slices

Polenta bread recipe with seeds

Day 1

Sourdough

  • 50g 100% hydration sourdough starter
  • 100g strong bread flour
  • 100g fine wholewheat flour
  • 200g water

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl and cover for 24 hours.

Toasted Seed Soaker

  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 80g water

Toast the seeds in a small saucepan and cover with the water. Cover for 24 hours.

Day 2

  • 50g polenta
  • 175g water
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 300g white flour
  • 50g maizemeal
  • 7g salt
  1. Oil a dinner plate with the olive oil (use a brush to spread).
  2. Place 50g polenta and 100g water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil; stir while it thickens and wraps itself to the stirring spoon.
  3. Remove from the heat and from the pan right away; spoon the polenta onto the dinner plate and flatten it out across the whole surface.
  4. Place another dinner plate (up side down) on top and leave to cool slightly.
  5. Combine the flours and salt, the cooled down polenta, the remaining water (75g), 400g of the sourdough and the seed soaker in a large bowl.
  6. Knead for 10 minutes.
  7. Place back into the bowl, cover and leave for about 1.5 hours.
  8. Give the dough another quick knead.
  9. Prepare a proving basket by flouring the surface in order to prevent the wet dough from sticking. Alternatively, if you have one, use a Lékué bread maker, it’ll make the proving and baking process much easier.
  10. Shape the dough into a loaf and move around in a flour bath (covering the whole loaf surface) before placing it into the proving basket seam-side up.
  11. Cover with a polythene bag and keep in a warm place for 3-5 hours until well risen. The time may vary widely based on the temperature in your room. Give it some extra time if the dough needs to rise more.
  12. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  13. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  14. Turn out the dough onto the baking tray and score the dough by making several diagonal incisions.
  15. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
Polenta bread
Polenta bread – delicious with cheeses and cold cuts of meat

Gluten-free buckwheat & linseed bread recipe

 

Last updated on December 9th, 2015 at 11:02 pm

 

I personally get on well with gluten, a natural protein found in wheat and other grains. I am, however, painfully aware that not everyone is as lucky. Gluten-free bread recipes don’t have a particularly good reputation; but I found a great recipe that uses a variety of gluten-free flours and tastes delicious!

Gluten-free buckwheat & linseed bread
Gluten-free buckwheat & linseed bread

The role of gluten in breads

When preparing wheat dough, a stretchy web is formed. This elastic gluten network expands with the gases formed in the fermentation process, holds moisture and prevents bread from crumbling.

In gluten-free bread baking, ingredients such as linseed and psyllium husks help to hold the bread’s shape. Golden linseed, when toasted and added to the liquid ingredients of bread dough, releases a sticky gluten-like gum which softens the crumb. Psyllium seed husks, a source of fibre, bind moisture and make gluten-free breads less crumbly.

Psyllium seed husks
Psyllium seed husks

How gluten-free bread is different

The absence of gluten has a number of implications on the bread and baking process:

  1. Kneading is not required as gluten (the stretchy network) can’t be developed.
  2. The dough needs to be quite wet as gluten-free flours soak up much more water than wheat.
  3. Although gluten-free bread doesn’t keep too well and gets stale quickly, freezing parts of your freshly-baked loaf solves this problem.

Gluten-free flours

There is a good variety of alternative flours which can be used in gluten-free baking. Gluten-free flours can be made of corn, tapioca, buckwheat, rice, chickpeas, beans, soya, millet, potatoes, teff, chestnuts, almonds and peas.

Health food stores and more and more supermarkets stock gluten-free flours. Real Foods stocks a great range of flours and ships worldwide.

Gluten-free sourdough

Gluten-free bread baking does not mean sourdough-free baking. Teff flour sourdough for example is usually used to prepare the Ethiopian bread injera.

On this note, there are some very interesting findings in terms of making wheat sourdough bread safe for people with coeliac disease. More on this with some encouraging results on Celiac.com.

The gluten-free buckwheat & linseed bread recipe (by Dan Lepard)

I used a Dan Lepard recipe for this gluten-free buckwheat and linseed bread, substituting half of the cornflour with buckwheat flour. Cornflour is a useful base flour with good binding properties, however its nutritional value is limited. Buckwheat adds flavour and nutritional quality into the mix.

Gluten-free bread dough, no kneading required
Gluten-free bread dough, no kneading required

The verdict

I don’t have to opt for gluten-free breads, but I think this buckwheat, cornflour and linseed loaf tastes great and takes very little effort. It’s spongy and doesn’t break up or crumble although it’s a little cake-like in consistency. As I used half corn and half buckwheat flour, the bread has a strong buckwheat taste. This isn’t a bad thing at all if you like the distinct buckwheat flavour, like me.

Eat with…

I personally like combining this bread with very salty flavours. It works well with smoked fish, gherkins and cottage cheese but I have also tried more Mediterranean-style toppings such as black olive pâté or a tomato, olive and basil salad with pecorino shavings.