Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A sort-of Tartine-like Sourdough Rosemary Polenta Pepita Bread

January's bread challenge was, indeed, a challenge.  Elizabeth, our kitchen of the month, asked the Babes to bake a Sourdough Polenta Rosemary Pepita bread, based on a recipe from Tartine.

From the first moment I read the recipe, I had numerous red flags waving in my face.  First, the dough would be gloppy.  I don't like gloppy dough.  I can never scrape it all off my hands, so I feel like I'm losing too much of it.  Second, there was a seemingly endless amount of stretching and folding, not my favorite.  Third, I think we all used different recipes.  Mine didn't include toasting the pepitas or cooking the polenta.

So, here's an account of this adventure.

To begin, we made a leavener using sourdough starter and letting the starter/flour mixture sit overnight to get nice and foamy.  While I have a viable starter, it's being kept in the refrigerator for the time being (behavior issues).  I mixed the flours and starter and placed the bowl in the oven (light on) overnight.  Morning came, and nothing.  So, I placed said bowl on top of the dryer in the garage while I did laundry.  It was a warmish day, so that along with the heat of the dryer provided a good environment.  After 36 hours, upon close inspection, the leavener did actually become foamy, but it was too late in the day to proceed.  I bundled the bowl with towels and stuck it all into the warm dryer for its overnight rest.

In the morning I soldiered on, making the dough.  Since I didn't trust the leavener, I admit to adding a wee bit of yeast to the flour mixture, and continued to stretch and fold for the next three hours.  I also used my mixer and dough hook as well as my plastic scraper to do the stretch-and-fold activity.

Then came the moment to add the polenta mixture.  More red flags.  Instead of having a soft dough, I now had polenta soup.   No more pepitas, no more rosemary.  To dump or not to dump.  I pondered.  I couldn't abandon the project at this point, so I brought back the dough hook and began liberally adding flour to create something that more resembled dough.  This was followed by more stretch and fold.

Finally, it was time to place the dough into the rice flour-coated basket.  The dough filled the basket.  In the back of my mind, I briefly considered dividing the dough into two pieces.  No, I didn't listen to myself.

Since the top of the dryer was a nice warm place, I placed the bagged basket of dough there, running the dryer to make sure it kept warm.  After two hours, I checked on the progress, only to find dough oozing over the basket sides and filling the bag.  Whoa.  Guess it was time to turn on the oven!

Last November, I treated myself to a Dutch oven (Staub) that King Arthur Flour had for sale.

I have wanted to make these high-heat breads, but don't have any container suitable, so this seemed perfect for the occasion.  Into the 425 degree oven went the pot.  When it was heated sufficiently (looking more black than red), I brought in the basket of dough, and proceeded to extricate it from the plastic bag and the plastic wrap cover.

Ah, the joy of watching your dough deflate!  At that moment, since it apparently no longer mattered, I just poured the dough into the extremely hot Dutch oven, and slashed at will.

Thank goodness for oven spring!  I fully expected to see a flat brick, but, amazingly, a lovely loaf emerged from all the tribulations.

Even the texture/crumb is satisfactory.

It even tastes good, too.  I'm not sure, though, that it's the original recipe, which is why it's a sort-of version.

So, I will leave you with a link to Elizabeth's blog, where you will hopefully find the most current rendition of this recipe. Also check out the efforts of the other Babes.  They always have great suggestions and tips.  It's worth a try, but do so before January 29th to be included in the Buddy roundup.