Olive Polenta Loaf
I've long wanted to try my hand at an imitation of this excellent loaf I had from one of the best bakeries I've tasted bread from: the, sadly, erstwhile Scratch Bakehouse of Syracuse, NY.
I recently got an order of grains from Redtail Grains, a neat small-scale organic grain farm in NC that focuses a lot on heirloom varietals. Among that order was some cateto orange polenta which is supposed to be particularly creamy and well-suited to polenta. So here was my go:
bread flour: 360g (80%)
Sungold Spelt from Redtail Grains: 90g (20%)
leaven: 50g (~10%)
water: 335g (75%)
Polenta made with Cateto Orange corn from Redtail Grains: 225g (50%)
Kalamata olives: a handful (maybe a 1/4 cup?), chopped
Process- Pretty much my standard process of late
mix starter + water, stir, add flours. "Autolyse" 1 hr @ room temp. (probably around 65-70). Add salt, pinch in. Stretch and fold over the course of 3 hrs at room temperature (same as above more or less). Add in the polenta and olives about halfway through stretch and fold period. Continue bulk fermentation overnight (room temp probably in the mid 60s), about 8 hours in addition to the 3 hrs. of folding. Shape. Retard in refrigerator for around 8 hrs. Bake @ 500 20 min, uncover, 10min, reduce to 450, 30min, let cool in turned-off oven.
Notes: The dough came together nicely, and the polenta didn't cause it to get too unmanageable during the stretch and fold phase, but as with a few other porridge loaves, it was quite wet and sticky at the end of the BF when time to shape, thus my shaping job was rather loose. Cornmeal/polenta, even when well cooked, seems to retain a grittiness that seems to hinder the gluten structure more than other cooked grains/porridges. It also seemed to add a lot of water to the loaf; this was maybe one of the wettest feeling loaves I've baked, and even after the long bake, the crumb was still glistening (fortunately not gummy though).
The crumb was super soft and the crust very robust, creating a nice contrast. The polenta flavor added something, though perhaps not as distinct as other porridges. I think I added too few olives and chopped them too small- their flavor didn't come through much.
Made a grilled cheese with some slices- maybe one of the best grilled cheeses I've ever eaten thanks to that soft rich crumb getting griddled.
The shape of the loaf was nothing to sing about, but just about all other aspects, especially a nice rich flavor, put this up there with some of my favorite of my creations. I don't know that it equaled the Scratch Bakeshouse loaf though, but that's a pretty lofty standard to chase.