Polenta and Rosemary Sourdough
I did it! I made bread! You would think this should not be a notable achievement for someone who runs a bread blog, but this polenta and rosemary sourdough is the first loaf of bread I’ve made since we brought Maple home more than 7 weeks ago. Oddly enough, I think it might also be the first sourdough loaf I’ve made all year. And of course obviously I chose the hottest weekend of the year to do it.
Despite all this I am thrilled with the results and will look forward to making this loaf again. When baked the rosemary gives the loaf (and your kitchen) and incredible smell and the polenta lends a unique texture while helping to keep the loaf moist.
I prepped this dough on Sunday night and then baked it Monday morning. I think I prefer to do overnight rises; I find that the loaf bakes much better and when slightly chilled I have an easier time scoring the loaf. Refrigerating during the final rise also lets me bake the bread on my schedule. One thing I have learned with Maple is that it’s important to build her (or in this case bread) into your life, not to necessarily reconstruct it around her. So rather than feel forced to stay at home on Sunday afternoon waiting to bake bread, I can toss it in the fridge and bake it the following morning before it gets too hot out.
I brought some of this bread to a picnic in the Arb (Nichols Arboretum for those of you unfamiliar with Ann Arbor). Maple happily joined us and we spent lots of time playing in the shade, then in the Huron River. Maple especially liked watching all the kayakers and tubers float by, just as much as they loved seeing a puppy splashing around in the water.
- 400 grams bread flour
- 100 grams whole wheat flour
- 65 grams active sourdough levain
- 100 grams polenta, cooked
- 370 grams water
- 12 grams kosher salt
- 5 grams dried rosemary
- The night before (or at least 7-8 hours) you make your dough combine 2 tablespoons of unfed sourdough starter with 75 g of water, 50 g of all purpose flour, and 25 g of whole wheat flour.
- Stir until there are no dry bits of flour, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit out overnight. This will be your active levain the next morning. A drop of the levain will float in water when it is ready.
- When ready, disperse the levain in 350 grams of water in a large bowl. Add all flour and mix by hand until there are no dry bits. Cover and let rest for one hour.
- After the hour is up add salt and remaining 20 grams of water. Mix well and cover the dough again.
- For the next two hours ‘turn’ the dough every 30 minutes. This means grabbing the underside of the dough, and stretching it up and over the rest of the dough. Perform a few of these turns each time you handle the dough.
- After the first turn work in the rosemary and polenta. After two hours is up, let the dough rest for another hour before you turn it again.
- After the third hour, let the dough rest another 30 minutes. Then turn it out onto an unfloured surface. Flour the top of the dough and flip it over. Work into a round shape and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Following the bench rest flour the top of the dough again, flipping it over after so the flour side is face down. Fold the third of the dough closest to you inward, and then stretch the dough out to the sides. Fold the right, and then left, sides in toward the center. Fold the top of the dough inward, and then wrap the bottom part of the dough over it all.
- Work this into a round shape, and place seam side up in a proofing basket lined well with flour.
- Let rise for 3-4 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator). One hour before baking place a dutch oven, with the lid on, in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.
- Once hot, place the dough into the pan and score the loaf. Immediately place the top back on and return to the oven. Turn the heat down to 450 degrees and cook for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes remove the top of the dutch oven and rotate the pan. Continue to bake the bread for another 20-25 minutes, until the crust is deeply caramelized. Enjoy!