The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Savoury Polenta Levain

Franko's picture
Franko

Savoury Polenta Levain


Savoury Polenta Levain


 

This summer our garden provided us with a bumper crop of little cherry tomatoes , so many in fact that we, or rather my wife Marie, ended up putting a large portion of them in the dehydrator so we could make use of them through the winter time. The tomatoes were cured briefly in a mix of salt, olive oil and fresh oregano before going into the dehydrator. When they were finally ready to eat we were amazed at how well the pure tomato flavour had been retained. I've eaten a lot of the sun dried type that you can find at the grocer or deli over the years, but I've never had any with quite as intense a flavour as these little gems. At last count we had just over a half pound of dried cherry tomatoes , which made me think that we could spare a few to make a bread with. The idea of using them in a loaf with polenta came from remembering an excellent grilled polenta with a sun dried tomato, garlic, parmigiano and olive oil dressing that I'd had years before at a pot luck BBQ with some friends.

Searches on TFL and the web in general didn't turn up much that I was interested in as most them called for eggs and milk or other ingredients I wasn't keen on, so I thought a little experimentation was in order to make the bread I had in mind. It had to be made with natural yeast, polenta -(more accurately, a hot cornmeal soaker), and the dried tomatoes, other than that I was pretty open to using whatever I felt would help compliment the flavour of the tomatoes. Thinking about the grilled polenta dish that I'd had, I decided to just go with some roasted garlic and parmigiano as the flavour additions and see how that worked. Well it worked just fine! The tomato flavour came through as the main player, the garlic and cheese offering subtle support, and the polenta adding a soft texture to the overall loaf. The sour sort of plays around in the background, which is what I was hoping for since I wasn't going for a tangy or sharp flavoured bread. The polenta gives it a soft crumb, and the wheat provides a good chewy crust, making for a pleasant contrast while you're eating it. This bread is great for panini sandwiches and toasts up quite nicely as well, but to me this is what I call a 'cocktail bread' , or something that you might make to take to a friends for dinner, or to have with some olives and cheese and a glass of wine as your waiting for the main course to finish cooking. There are a number of other things you could add to it such as toasted pine nuts, various herbs, or a different type of cheese but if you're looking for the taste of the tomato to shine through I'd recommend using a light hand. The recipe is included below as well as some photos. If any TFL'rs are interested in giving this one a whirl, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

 

All the best,

Franko



 

                      SAVOURY POLENTA LEVAIN

Ingredients

%

Kg

Kg

 

 

 

 

Levain

 

 

 

Mature liquid Culture

13

10

 

Bread Flour

100

78

 

Water

125

100

 

 

 

 

 

Polenta

 

 

 

Water-144 F

100

300

 

Yellow Cornmeal

33

100

 

Butter/olive oil *

5

15

 

 

 

 

 

Final Dough

 

 

 

Bread Flour

100

600

 

Polenta

69

415

 

Honey

2.5

15

 

Roasted

Garlic/

Shallots

 

6

36

 

Parmigiano Cheese

10

60

 

Levain

31

188

 

Salt

2

12

 

Water

25

150

 

Dried Tomatoes

*

10

60

 

Total

 

1305.5

 

 

Notes:

*drizzle a little olive oil over the tomatoes to soften before starting the mix.

sundried tomatoes packed in oil and drained can be used as well -all or in part

* either butter or olive oil work well, use butter if a richer flavour is desired

Procedure:

  • Mix the levain 16-18 hrs before making the final dough and keep at room temp.

 

  • Make the polenta at the same time as the levain. Pour boiling water over the cornmeal and butter/oil and stir well then heat in microwave on high for 1 minute, stir until it begins to thicken, then heat for another minute or less and stir again till the polenta is very thick. Pour into a shallow container and let cool overnight. The polenta should be soft and slightly granular, not gelatinized or rubbery.

 

  • Break the polenta up in the mixer using the paddle attachment on 3rd speed for 1 minute, then add and mix all the ingredients except the salt and tomatoes on 1st speed until combined in a rough mass. Add the salt and mix on 1st speed for 3-4 minutes then on 2nd speed for 7-8 minutes. Adjust the water if needed to attain a medium soft dough. The dough should be soft enough to incorporate the dried tomatoes easily.

 

  • Mix in the dried tomatoes on 1st speed until thoroughly combined. Knead the dough by hand on the counter for 4-5 minutes using minimal dusting flour and a scraper until it's developed and the dough is smooth and elastic.

 

  • 1st stretch and fold after 1 hr, then again after the 2nd hr.

  • Retard at 45F or less for 18 hrs. Allow the dough to come to room temp of 70-75F for 1-1/12 hr before shaping.

  • Lightly round the dough, cover and rest for 15-20 minutes, then shape as desired and roll the loaf in semolina. Try to tuck any tomatoes poking through the suface back inside or underneath the loaf to keep them from scorching. Let rise for 2-1/2 to 3 hrs, then slash and slide on to a stone in a preheated 500F oven with normal steam and lower the oven temp to 460F. Bake for 15 minutes then rotate the loaf for even baking if using a non convection oven and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, rotating the loaf once more.

  • Cool the loaf on wire racks for 8hrs wrapped in baker's linen

Comments

LindyD's picture
LindyD

That's a beautiful loaf, Franko.


Your formula sounds so good, it might be worth trying sans the tomatoes (we had our first frost and snow a couple weeks ago).

teketeke's picture
teketeke

Wow, While reading while your describe the natural dried tomatoes,  I tasted sour in my mouth!  Unfortunetely, I don't have any homemade dried tomatoes now. but I want to keep this recipe!  This is looking fabulous and nice creamy crumb!!Yummy! I love panini sandwich so that I better try this bread.   " Cocktail bread" It sounds  very nice!    


It is very well written, too.  It is very thoughtful.


 


Best wishes,


Akiko


 

Franko's picture
Franko

Thanks LindyD and Akiko!


This loaf could be made with store bought sun-dried tomatoes if you like . I just used our home made ones since that's what I had available. If you wanted to use the kind that are bottled in olive oil you could drain them first and I'm sure you would get very similar flavour.


All the best,


Franko

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Boy that look great Franko!


Eric

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi there Franko, What a perfectly lovely loaf!!!  This sounds like a great use for your bumper crop.  I like how you flavored your tomatoes prior to drying. I haven't used oregano but have used a bit of crushed coriander for added flavor prior to oven-drying tomatoes. That crumb shot is making me hungry...and I can't wait for next summer's tomatoes!  Regards, breadsong

Franko's picture
Franko

Thanks Breadsong!


Very nice comments indeed and much appreciated.


Best Wishes,


Franko

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Franko,


There are some great tricks in this loaf.   Love the idea of using the polenta; I'm sure that portion of gelatinised grain has a great effect.


Such flavoursome ingredients too; yes, I'm sure shop bought S-D Tomatoes will suffice, but I'll bet they are a pale shadow of those Marie has carefully preserved!


I'm pretty sure you'll have eaten it all by now!


BW


Andy

Franko's picture
Franko

If any one of you very accomplished bakers thought this bread was a good one I'd be very pleased. To have all three of you fellows think so just makes my day.


Many Thanks!


Franko

EvaB's picture
EvaB

fabulouly beautiful loaf, and thanks for the recipe, now I know what to do with the ton of cherry tomatoes I will have again next year, had two lovely plants that produced insanely, couldn't keep up with them! I do have a dehydrator, but no counter space for it this year, so hope to have that remedied by next year!


You have certainly given me incentive to do so!


Had you thought of trying to make a baugette style loaf from it, then you could slice it in rounds for tasting at the cocktail hour! I can see it with lovely smoked salmon on it, or even a nice spread like tapenade.

Franko's picture
Franko

Thanks so much EvaB and I hope you try the recipe out sometime.


It's a good way to use up at least a small portion of a large crop. Regarding baking it in a baguette style loaf, my major concern would be the crumb becoming too hard or dry in the small crumb/crust profile of a baguette. For me, the moist crumb is a key factor in the overall appeal of this bread. I'd be more inclined to bake it in a mini loaf tin to preserve the soft crumb and avoid as much tomato scorching as possible. Smoked salmon or a tuna tartare would be brilliant as a topping, as would tapenade or even hummus.

EvaB's picture
EvaB

out, but that is a reasonable thought, and mini loaves might be a lot better.


I have a sort of dip/sandwich/cracker spread that I make at Xmas, which uses green olives with pimento, and cream cheese and sour cream which would be fabulous on the bread I'm sure. It sure disappears fast enough when its set out with crackers. I've made toast to put it on, and in summer put it out with veggie bits.


Recipe for anyone interested


1 cup olives drained, I generally use the whole small jar


1 package of cream cheese, cut into chunks (split the sheese lengrhwise, then dhop into four crosswise)


1 250 gram pack (about 1 cup) sour cream (I don't use anything but full fat cream cheese and sour cream but use what you want) or the same of plain yogurt for a slightly lighter dip


put it all into a food processor, and process, if it doesn't mix up smooth, add a tsp of the olive brine, it should have olive chunks but the cheese and sour cream should be smooth and blended, put into a nice bowl and into the fridge for melding, it will keep for a couple days, and be more flavourful if allowed to meld for at least overnight.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I love the colors of the crumb against the red tomato.  All the ingredients must give this loaf a wonderful, delicious, flavor.  Nicely written up, too!  Thanks for sharing your lovely recipe!


Sylvia

Franko's picture
Franko

Thanks Sylvia!


Glad you liked the liked the recipe and the writeup. I have a lot more faith in being able to make and bake a loaf than I do when it comes to writing about it , so that's a very nice compliment to receive.


Franko