Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Polenta Ciabatta


It's raining here. Raining a whole lot. It's wetter than wet - and there's also a very strong wind. You really don't want to go outdoors, unless you absolutely have to. Sadly, to get home from work, I'll have to eventually. But let's not think about that. Instead, let's talk about what you can do when you're at home, when it rains: bake bread. It's one of my favorite things to do, and it makes me feel very competent and accomplished. Plus, it fills my freezer and saves me from having to eat store-bought bread. (Which is often full with preservatives and things I really rather not eat.)

This is a very simple bread. I really recommend it even if you don't usually bake, because the dough is so easy to work with. And they freeze beautifully - just thaw in the microwave (or overnight if you're good at planning ahead), slice and toast for a nice crispy surface.

The recipe comes from a lovely book my in-laws got me for my birthday: Smaker från Saltå Kvarn. ("Flavours from Saltå Kvarn".) Saltå is a mill outside Stockholm, and they produce lots of different flours but also things like beans, lentils or whole grains. You can find them pretty much anywhere in Sweden, and everything they make is organic. The book is lovely - it has three chapters: bread, sweet stuff and food. I'm dying to try some of their salads, using beans and lentils - I generally shy away from that, but I will make a point of trying those recipes. On another rainy day, perhaps.

Polenta Ciabatta
from "Smaker från Saltå Kvarn"

makes 20

50 g fresh yeast
1 litre water, tepid
1 tbsp salt
200 ml polenta (0,8 cups)
2,4 litres all-purpose flour (10 cups)

Crumble the yeast into a bowl, and stir it with some of the water until it's dissolved. Add the rest of the water, salt and polenta. Work in the flour gradually -by hand or with a stand mixer, but be aware that this is a pretty big dough and it was slightly too big for my Kitchen-Aid. (Which meant lots of cleaning afterwards.)

The dough should hold together easily, and release from the bowl, but it will still feel slightly sticky. Pour it onto a clean surface and cover with a towel. Leave to rise for 45 minutes. Divide into 20 evenly sized portions - mine weighed 120 g each - and shape into small rectangles. Place on baking sheets, cover with a towel and leave for another 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 175°C. Bake the breads for 20 minutes. I used a water sprayer to create some mist in the oven at the start.

Leave to cool on a rack.

Recipe in Swedish:


Jessica said...

Would you recommend the book to the average baker/cook?
I use plenty of their other grains but like you beans and lentils, not so much. Sweet stuff and food would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Wow! It looks like the weather has changed a lot since I was in Stockholm! Thanks for the recipe, I just bought some polenta and I don't really know what to do with it!

Anonymous said...

Please help quickly! I don't want to sound stupid - but when you say 'polenta' do you mean the final product or the flour? I have so much of the flour here (am staying with a friend at the moment) and we would like to make it. It sounds like the flour but I have the brightness of a brick when it comes to new bread types, so I'm just checking .....

Anne said...

Jessika - I really would, I think you'll like it!

Aurelie - it really has! From warm sun to icy rain, in just a few days!

Justfoodnow - polenta flour, or grain, or whatever, not the finished porridge-like substance. Sorry for not being clearer! :)

Jason said...

These look delicious! I will save this for my next rainy day.

Anonymous said...

hejje! undrade om du har ngt bra tips på tillbehör t en kräftskiva FÖRUTOM västerbottenspajen och tex bröd...?
hoppas allt e bra?

Anne said...

Tess, jaaa du, vi ska nog bara ha typ västerbottenpaj och gott bröd till våra kräftor, men ett absolut måste är ju en smarrig efterrätt. Kräftor blir man ju inte så mätt på, och efter allt det salta är det gott med nåt riktigt sött. Vet inte än vad det ska bli till årets fest, men nånting med choklad tror jag...

Pia K said...

One of my favourite cookbooks (as well as places for a summer outing) and it's so darn pretty too!

Anonymous said...

I'm so going to try this one! Det måste vara jätte god!