New Year’s Challenge: Tartine Polenta Bread (BBB January 2018)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Tartine Polenta Bread, based on a recipe in “Tartine Bread” by Chad Robertson; definition of corn; using millet in place of corn; following the book recipe produces Slack Bread – worse than the croc!; making my sister happy; importance of recipe testing; overwintering rosemary in an inhospitable climate; a Bread Baking Babes (BBB) project;

Tartine Polenta Bread Bread Baking Babes (BBB) January 2018: Tartine Polenta Bread

How do you spell verbose – shouldn’t it begin wih “E”?

Once again, I’ve waffled like crazy about what to choose. And once again, I didn’t actually consider that we should make waffles. Although….

Just as I did last January, I was going to choose Carta da Musica, still being entranced by its description in “Savoring Italy” by Robert Freson and the fact that we saw the April Bloomfield making something with it on Season2 of the delightful PBS series “Mind of a Chef”.

On the island of Sardinia, eligible men used to choose their wives, not for their beauty or their intelligence, but for their ability to bake bread. […] Sardinian women have developed pane carasau, a flatbread so light and thin that it has been nicknamed carta di musica, or sheet music bread.
– Louis Inturrisi, Sicily/Sardinia, Savoring Italy, p229,230

Then I remembered bookmarking Cathy’s Easy Rosemary Orange Poolish Baguette, which is not unsimilar to Stacy’s Orange Rosemary Boule in Jamie’s and Ilva’s fabulous cookbook “Orange Appeal”. I ALMOST almalgamated those two recipes…. (remind me to rave about Stacy’s Orange Rosemary Boule!)

Then our new tortilla press distracted me (Yes!! We gave ourselves a cast-iron tortilla press; suddenly it’s easy easy easy to make tortillas); I thought, “Tortillas! We have to make tortillas!”

But I nixed it. It would mean I’d have to post two recipes: one for wheat flour tortillas and one for corn tortillas (our favourites) because of corn allergies in BBBabedom.

I started scouring my “must make soon” notes and came across Bourbon Bread in Zachary Golper’s book, “Bien Cuit”. The scoring technique for the bread is really really cool.

I think bourbon is one of the most elegant beverages. It is simultaneously sweet and bitter, smoky and smooth, and graced with the subtle vanilla notes of oak. Because bourbon is a corn-based whiskey, I include corn in the bread-both in the starter and the dough. […] Peter served it with a slice of Kentucky ham […]. It was off the charts! […] My one caution in regard to baking with bourbon (or any whisky) is that it has a bitter component that can overpower, so don’t be tempted to put in a touch extra for good measure. The choice of bourbon is up to you. Common wisdom is that when cooking with wine, it’s best to use a wine you would like to drink. The same holds true for baking with whiskey.
-Zachary Golper, ‘Bourbon Bread’, 63-67 Bien Cuit, p63-67

However, this Bourbon Bread contains bourbon AND corn polenta: deviously locking out two BBBabes. :lalala:

Then I really got distracted, gazing at Madalina’s (Duhlicious) Kürtös Kalács that she describes as a “hollow pastry cooked over an open fire. Roughly translated, it means “chimney cake”, and it is DELICIOUS“.

I waffled some more. Suddenly I recollected that we’ll be baking this bread in January, after all the feasting and excesses from Christmas and/or New Year Festivities. Do we really want to make another sweet buttery bread?

Besides. All those above recipes call for yeast, or no yeast at all. That’s no fun…. Now that it’s finally working for me, I really really want to use the wild yeast that is bubbling away happily in the fridge.

There were two likely candidates in Chad Robertson’s book “Tartine Bread”: Polenta Bread (p93) and Semolina Bread encrusted with fennel, poppy and sesame seeds (p111).

I asked the resident expert which one I should choose. He immediately chose the first, saying that he didn’t really like lots of fennel seeds in bread. (!!! This came as a surprise. 30 years together and this is the first I’ve heard about this oddness about fennel seed, a seasoning that we both adore in savoury food.)

So. Polenta Bread it is. And for those who want to avoid corn, polenta can be made from millet, or semolina, or barley, or….

1. British The chief cereal crop of a district, especially (in England) wheat or (in Scotland) oats.
    1.1 The grain of a cereal crop.
    1.2 North American another term for maize
-Oxford English Dictionary
Any grain – as long as it is cooked or soaked in hot water and then cooled – can be added to the Basic Country Bread dough. […] Steep coarse-ground polenta in boiling water before mixing it into the dough. The polenta adds a custardlike texture to the crumb
-Chad Robertson, ‘Polenta Bread’, Tartine Bread, p93
Polenta can actually be made from a whole range of grains. In Northern Italy, for instance, polenta is traditionally made from semolina wheat.
-Emma Christenson, What is Polenta?, The Kitchn
Long before corn was brought from the Americas to Europe, polenta was already a staple food—it just wasn’t made from corn, obviously. The name originally comes from the Latin word for “pearled grain” (like barley), and the dish, a gruel that could be made with all sorts of grains and legumes, dates to Roman times.
-Daniel Gritzer, The Real Rules of Making Polenta (Hint: They’re Not What Everyone Says), Serious Eats

Ha. Are you still with me? Here, in my verbosity,
is how things went with the BBB’s January 2018 recipe:

BBB Tartine Polenta Bread diary:

4 January 2018, 09:47 toasted millet We decided to try cooking a little millet to see how it tastes. We didn’t want to make it porridgey, like risotto (although, that apparently works). Instead, T added just enough boiling vegetable stock to turn it into the consistency of couscous. Then he fried a little bacon and onion and tossed it into the bowl of fluffy millet. It was quite delicious in a pablumy sort of way.

Cooking millet porridge is brainless and easy. You just need to throw the millet into boiling water and let it cook for 30 minutes, then it’s ready to serve. The only thing to note, is to add the millet after water is boiling and skim the foam from the top. This way, the millet won’t spill easily during cooking. […] For a thicker porridge, cook the porridge a bit longer until it thickens
– Maggie Zhu, Omnivore’s Cookbook | millet porridge
Cooking up a pot of millet is not so different than cooking rice. One cup of raw millet makes over 3 cups of cooked millet. In a medium-sized saucepan, add 1 cup of raw millet. Turn the heat to medium and allow the millet to toast for 5 minutes or until the grains are golden brown and smell toasty. Add 2 cups of water or vegetable broth and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir and bring the water to a rapid boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and let the millet simmer for 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Do NOT keep opening the pot to check on it. When it looks like most of the water is gone, remove the pot from the heat and let stand for another 10 minutes. Uncover the pot and fluff the millet with a fork. Taste for any seasoning adjustments and add a bit of vegan butter, if desired. Serve while warm and fluffy. Be sure to check out my Guide to Cooking Perfect Whole Grains for everything you need to know!
– Rhea Parsons, One Green Planet | Incredible Ways to Cook with Millet

5 January 2018, 09:46 I ventured into the kitchen to see if the starter is floating.

Nope. And by the looks of the sides of the bowl, it was floating earlier this morning and has fallen. So I threw in a little more whole wheat flour and water, put it back into the oven with only the light turned on and then, after looking in horror at the thermometer on the cookbook shelf, raced back upstairs to where it is fractionally warmer.

Living in a house that is close to being 100 years old has its advantages most of the time. But it is nightmarish when it’s windy and extremely cold outside. Outdoors, it’s -21C (going up to a balmy -16C). In the kitchen, it’s 12C! Brrrrrrrrr.

11:07 Yay! It’s floating!

12:16 After mixing the dough and measuring the salt to set aside for squooshing in later, I ventured into the cooooold section (10C) by the back door to go into the basement to get rosemary from the plant overwintering there. Because we’re foolish enough to live in a climate where rosemary is not hardy enough to survive outside in the winter. (Why do we continue to live in this inhospitable climate?? :stomp: :stomp: )

Then – instead of following Rhea Parsons’ lead for making polenta – I obediently followed Robertson’s instructions in “Tartine Bread”. I boiled water and stirred in medium-grind millet.

That’s right. I decided not to use cornmeal. We’ve made lots of bread with added cornmeal. But we’ve never tried using a good shot of millet before.

Also, I popped the pepitas. It took about 5 minutes instead of the 10 that Robertson suggested.

14:21 I just added the polenta mixture. Excuse me, not mixture. It’s soup. Aaaughhhhhhh!!! How do you spell “slack dough”? :lalala: (Ha! My sister will be happy with this. She says it’s so much more interesting when things have gone awry.)

I don’t think this liquid mess is because I used millet instead of cornmeal. Because I can’t imagine that millet would absorb any less water than cornmeal.

I have a sneaking feeling that I may be adding flour to this….

15:54 I just did the 3rd turn of the dough. It’s like wrestling with the Croc!! No. It’s far worse than the Croc!!!

Instead of slopping and turning the mess around in the bowl, I dumped a good shot of all-purpose flour onto the board, poured the dough out and before it ran down off the board and onto the floor, managed to fold it, lightly pat away extra flour, fold it, lightly pat away extra flour, fold it, lightly pat away extra flour, fold it, etc. etc until I could plop it back into the bowl. It sort of looks like dough now.

Sort of. (Did I take pictures? You must be joking.)

I’m leaving it for about half an hour and may repeat the extra flouring before shaping. If it will shape at all.

Ha!! And I imagined that this might be a recipe that would attract BBBuddies. As if!

This photo of dealing with slack dough looks pretty much the same as what occurred in the kitchen a few moments ago.

20:31 WHAT a disaster!! Clearly, I will have to change the instructions!

There MUST be typos in the recipe in Tartine. There’s no way the bread made the way he says could ever be a success.

    Steep coarse-ground polenta in boiling water before mixing it into the dough. The polenta adds a custardlike texture to the crumb […]
    In a bowl, stir together the polenta and boiling water and set aside for 30 minutes or until cool. Stir the corn oil, rosemary, and pumpkin seeds into the polenta.
    After giving the dough a second turn in step 5 (pate 54), add the polenta mixture to the dough and moisten with a little water. Use your hands to cut and squeeze the ingredients into the dough.
-Chad Robertson, Tartine Bread, p93

“Custardlike texture”, eh? Following Robertson’s instructions (or lack thereof), the resulting dough was more like soup. In retrospect, I should have made actual polenta (or porridge) instead of simply adding the grains to boiling water and imagining that Robertson expected all that extra water.

Or perhaps it’s not typos in the recipe but just a major omission of “until the water has absorbed”.

What a nightmare!

I confess that I’m spitting mad. Neither of us handle major disasters with the bread very well. We look upon them as personal insults. As I pulled the flat miserable loaf out of the oven, I sourly noted that there was a loaf of bread in the freezer that T could eat. His reply: “That’s for sure. I’m not eating that doorstop!”

We haven’t cut into the bread yet to see how really terrible it is. But still, I foresee lots and lots of croutons in our future.

I’ve now revised the instructions in the BBB recipe, following Rhea Parsons (One Green Planet) method for making lovely fluffy millet. I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t work exactly the same way with cornmeal.

6 January 2018, 10:49 We cut into the completely cooled bread and were amazed. It smells good… It even looks almost okay.

We tasted it. Wow. What great promise!

So we toasted the pieces, and two stunning things happened: 1.) we loved the flavour 2.) T said we should try it again with the fixes that I suggested.

Still, I fear that I may not be able to make the bread again in time for the 16th – we’re low on flour now and the weather is mind-numbingly cold and snowy. Not to mention that I have to wait until the dust in the kitchen settles….

oh ohstuckslack dough
flat bread

We’re going to comfort ourselves with palak paneer and chapatis tonight. I know I can’t ruin chapatis. (errrmmmm, I hope I haven’t jinxed anything by saying that!)

7 January 2018, 11:14 I’m happy to report that the chapatis were brilliant. More than brilliant, even.

crumb not so bad
Crumb not so bad after all…

And. So was this so-called failed bread! T made brilliant Mock Bennies with it (toasted bread with sliced hard boiled egg and cheese sauce). Oh Oh Oh Oh!!! This is brilliant!!

Now we’re thinking this bread would also be perfect for Mock Monsieurs.

13 January 2018, 13:33 The insanely cold weather finally eased(ish) – still no biking for us, the roads are horrifying. So we braved the elements to go and replenish our flour. We actually drove the car to the grocery store yesterday – it was so strange not to be riding our bikes. We had fits as we were trying to find parking!

I’m making the bread again today – this time with millet that has been cooked as per the method outlined in the revised recipe. Luckily, the rosemary plant overwintering under the lights in the basement hasn’t developed a serious case of powdery mildew (yet?) so I was able to clip a good shot to put into the dough.

milletmillet polenta

I caved in and asked T to prepare the millet. I was afraid that I’d mess it up…. (actually, I’m lying. I definitely Tom Sawyered him into doing it. :-) ) He made the polenta late yesterday afternoon, as I was building up the wild starter.

It was thrilling that the starter floated first thing this morning. Even more thrilling was that the initial millet-free dough was beautiful.

But the real bonus was after adding the millet. I just did a third fold on the dough – with the millet polenta already added. Oh My!!! It’s like night and day! It looks exactly the way dough should look. ie: not soupy in the least. Not even remotely.

The dough still has a slightly grainy feel so the millet’s integrity should remain.

I have high hopes that the resulting loaf is going to be lofty. I’m so excited!

13:53 That was close! T just asked if I had forgotten about the pumpkin seeds.

millet and pepitas
bread dough

Why yes. I HAD forgotten. Luckily, there’s still one more fold before it’s time to shape the bread….

15:12 shaped bread Shaping the bread was a breeze, even though the dough is slightly wetter than the normal Tartine bread. Which, of course, isn’t really surprising, considering that the polenta has so much water in it.

I was very pleased with myself for remembering to keep a little sprig of rosemary to put into the bottom of the VERY well rice-floured brotform so that there would be an extra design on the loaf. (How’s that for assuming that the second time would be successful?) :-)

17:01 Just before making tortillas for dinner, we looked to see if it was time to bake. We decided the bread should rise just a little longer.

Scoring 18:18 Scoring went very smoothly. (I didn’t dare score the failure slack slack slack version!)

I didn’t get as much oven spring as I hoped but there are ears! It felt a little heavy and it took longer than an hour to finish baking – 30minutes under with the lid on the combo cooker then 40 minutes with the lid off at 400F (on our ancient oven dial – no idea what the actual temperature is). The bread was way too blonde after the usual 30 minutes uncovered.

Too bad. I think I let the bread overrise a little. Or was it poor shaping? Whatever the cause: Rats. I was so sure it was going to be stellar.

Tartine Polenta Bread

Still, look at that lovely little ear! This is certainly much more promising than the first loaf!

14 January 2018, 08:25 Can’t wait to cut into the completely cooled bread. Ha. Of course it’s completely cooled. It has been on the counter in the kitchen all night. (It’s now 12C in the kitchen. I LOVE winter…. {cough} )

On Sunday morning, we sliced into the bread and were pleased to see that the crumb was not too horribly stiff and puddingy. The bread tasted good.

Tartine Polenta Bread

Toasted, it was even better. This bread is made to be toasted!

Here is the recipe that works — ie: do as I say, not as Robertson does:

BBB Tartine Polenta Bread
based on the recipe for ‘Polenta Bread’ in “Tartine Bread” by Chad Robertson

makes one round loaf:


  • dessert spoonful of bubbling 100% wheat starter from the fridge
  • 75gm (~2/3 c) 100% whole wheat flour
  • 75gm (75ml) water at body temperature

Polenta mixture

  • 70gm (.5 c) raw pepitas (shelled dried pumpkin seeds)
  • 61gm (.5 c) grains for polenta (coarse grind) – I used medium-grind cornmeal millet (90gm)
  • 240gm (1 c) boiling water
  • pinch salt
  • 21gm (1.5 Tbsp) sunflower oil (Robertson calls for unfiltered corn oil)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped


  • 100gm floating leavener (stir the rest into the jar in the fridge)
  • 500gm flour:
       » 375gm (~3 c) unbleached all purpose (no additives) flour
       » 125gm (~1 c) 100% whole wheat (no additives) flour, sifted (reserve the bran – should be approximately 4gm)
       » 4gm (~1.5 tsp) wheat germ
  • 350gm (350ml) water, at body temperature

Adding the Salt

  • all of the Dough mixture
  • 10gm salt (approx 1.5 tsp table salt – but please see Salt is salt, right?)
  • 25gm (25 ml) water at body temperature


  • rice flour
  • brot-form (or bowl)
  • reserved bran from sifting whole wheat flour


  • parchment paper
  • cast iron frying pan
  • large stainless steel mixing bowl (Le Creuset or a cast-iron combo cooker is even better)


  1. Leavener and refreshing the starter: On the evening before baking the bread, put the leavener ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. Using your dough whisk (use a wooden spoon if you don’t have a whisk), mix the leavener ingredients until all the flour is incorporated. Leave 100gm in the bowl. Mix the extra into the jar in the fridge. Cover the bowl containing the 100gm with a plate and leave in the oven with only the light turned on overnight – until it becomes bubbly and frothy like mousse.
  2. polenta mixture:
    1. Spread pumpkin seeds evenly in one layer into a dry cast-iron frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon, until the seeds begin to pop, changing from light green to brown (Robertson says this takes about 10 minutes but for me, it took about 5 minutes). Set aside and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.
    2. No No No. Pour boiling water into a bowl and stir in cornmeal (or whatever grain you are using). Set aside for about 10 minutes. Do the following instead: Put the raw grains into a pot over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally until they are turning gold and smell toasty (not more than 5 minutes). Add the water and a pinch of salt. Turn up the heat, stir and bring the mixture to a rapid boil. Turn the heat down to very low, cover the pot and allow the grains to simmer for about 15 minutes. Avoid the temptation to lift the lid. When the water has absorbed, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
    3. Add oil, rosemary and pumpkin seeds.
  3. dough: When a small spoonful of the leavener floats in a small bowl of room temperature water, you can go ahead and mix the dough. (If the leavener does not float, stir in a little more whole wheat flour and water – even amounts by weight – cover with a plate and leave for about 30 minutes more. Chances are that it will now float.) Put all the dough ingredients into a large mixing bowl along with the now bubbling leavener. Mix as well as you can with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter to rest for about 40 minutes. Chad Robertson says Do not skip the resting period. Working with the nature of the dough, the resting perod allows the protein and starch in the flour to absorb the water, swell, and then relax into a cohesive mass.
  4. adding the salt: Pour the 25gm water over-top of the mass of dough. Sprinkle on the salt, making sure that it goes onto the water. (Alternatively, you could stir the salt into the water in a little bowl and pour in the salty water.)
  5. kneading:
      Use one of your hands to squoosh the salt and water into the dough; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first the dough might be a bit messy. But persevere. Suddenly, it will seem more like dough than a horrible separated glop. Keep folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth. Cover with a plate and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
  6. stretching and folding (part 1): About 30 minutes after adding the salt, run your dough-working hand under water. Reach down along the side of the bowl and lift and stretch the dough straight up and almost out of the bowl. Fold it over itself to the other side of the bowl. Turn the bowl and repeat until it’s a little difficult to stretch the dough up any more. You’ll notice that the dough feels significantly smoother. Cover with a plate and leave on the counter (or if the kitchen is cool like ours in winter, in the oven with only the light turned on) for about 30 minutes.
  7. Repeat the above step
  • adding the polenta mixture: Add the polenta mixture to the dough. Run your dough-working hand under water and use it to squoosh the polenta, pepitas and rosemary into the dough. Allow to rest for 30 minutes
  • stretching and folding (part 2): Repeat the stretching and folding step 1 or 2 more times (Robertson says it should be done 4 times in all). Robertson writes [N]otice how the dough starts to get billowy, soft, and aerated with gas. At this later stage, you should turn the dough more gently to avoid pressing gas out of the dough. […] A well-developed dough is more cohesive and releases from the sides of the bowl when you do the turns. The ridges left by the turn will hold their shape for a few minutes. You will see a 20 to 30 percent increase in volume. More air bubbles will form along the sides of the container. These are all signs that the dough is ready to be […] shaped
  • prepare the brot-form: Put rice flour into a brotform and distribute it as evenly as possible. (If you don’t have a brot-form, you can line a bowl, basket or sieve with parchment paper. You can also use a liberally rice floured tea towel (but then you have to deal with a floured tea towel once the bread is baked). If you do not have rice flour, you can use wheat flour. However, it makes it significantly more difficult for the bread to be released from the basket….
  • shaping: Scatter a dusting of wheat flour on the board and gently place the dough on the flour. Using wet hands, stretch the dough into a longish rectangle, then fold it like a letter, gently patting off any extra flour that might be there. Continue folding until the dough is shaped in a ball. Place it seam side UP in the well floured (rice) brot-form. Evenly spread the reserved bran on and around the seam. Loosely wrap the basket and bread with a clean tea towel and enclose the whole thing inside a plastic bag and leave it in the oven with only the light turned on for 2 or 3 hours (until it has about doubled). You can also refrigerate the shaped bread overnight, but we have had problems with it over-rising – even in the fridge(!!)
  • baking: To know when it’s time to bake, run your index finger under water and gently but firmly press it on the side of the bread. If the dough springs back immediately, recover the bread with the plastic bag and leave it in the oven with only the light turned on. If the dough gradually returns back after being pressed, put the cast-iron frying pan and stainless steel bowl into the oven and preheat all to 425F.
  • About fifteen minutes later, put a square of parchment paper on the counter (the paper should be large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the frying pan). Overturn the shaped bread onto the parchment paper. Using a lame (or scissors, or serrated knife), score the bread. Take the pan and bowl out of the oven (wear oven mitts!!) and place the frying pan on the stove (to prevent burning your countertop…). Transfer the bread to the middle of the frying pan and immediately put the stainless steel bowl overtop like a hat. Put everything into the oven and immediately turn it down to 400F. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the hat and bake for a further 30 minutes or so, until the crust is a nice dark brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  • cooling: When the bread is done, remove it from the pan and allow it to cool on a footed rack before slicing and eating; the bread is still baking internally when first removed from the oven! If you wish to serve warm bread (of course you do), reheat it after it has cooled completely: To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.

    :: salt I urge you to weigh the salt. For more raving about this, please see Salt is salt, right?
    :: leavener The leavener is a 100% hydration, liquid levain. It takes about 5 days to create. (Please see our take on Jane Mason’s Natural Starter made with Wheat Flour.)
    If you’re too afraid (or don’t have time) to take five days to make a natural starter and still want to bake this by using commercial yeast, I think what I’d do is create a poolish – say 50gm water, 50gm flour and a few grains (not more than 1/8 tsp) yeast stirred together, covered, and left overnight. And then proceed as written. I confess I haven’t tried this, but don’t see why it won’t work. If you’re really worried, you could probably add few more grains of yeast into the final dough itself as well.
    :: why hand mixing? These instructions, as usual, do not mention using an electric mixer: I don’t have one; I don’t know how to use one. But of course, if you want to use your electric mixer for mixing and kneading, you should do so.
    :: cooking container If you’re lucky enough to have Le Creuset or a cast-iron combo cooker, of course, you should use that. But if you don’t, do use your cast-iron pan and cover the bread with an overturned stainless steel mixing bowl for the first half of baking. The dome creates a steam chamber that encourages oven spring.


    Tartine Polenta Bread

    Bread Baking Babes BBB: Let's Get Baking

    My dad always said it was important to establish blame. Being an obedient daughter, I’m compelled to take full responsibility for the BBBabes’ nightmares for this January. Because It’s my fault as host of January 2018’s Bread Baking Babes’ project.

    Still, now that we’ve worked out the kinks (mostly), we know you’ll want to make this polenta bread! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make Tartine Polenta Bread – remember that it only takes 5 days to create a starter – in the next couple of weeks and post about it (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 January 2018.

    Here’s how to let us know:

    • email me
      » Remember to include your name and a link to your post
      » Please type “BBB January 2018 bread” in the subject heading

    Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please email if you want to be included.

    If you don’t have a blog or flickr-like account, no problem; we still want to see and hear about your bread! Please email me with the details, so your walnut bread can be included in the roundup too.

    For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

    Edit 30 January 2018: Here is the January 2018 BBBuddies’ report


    Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ January 2018 bread:

    As Katie has so fittingly said in the past:

    As always, we have some very busy Babes at the moment….. But just so you know: We’re all still BABES!


    Tartine Polenta Bread


    20 responses to “New Year’s Challenge: Tartine Polenta Bread (BBB January 2018)

    1. Lien

      Your second loaf is just fantastic! almost a complete round ball!
      I loved the rosemary in it and those pepita’s never knew toasted pepitas taste so good. We made some more to eat later.
      But it was a struggle, as I made the polenta version of it. But we had an edible bread in the end.

      1. Elizabeth

        We were really surprised at the flavour of toasted pepitas too. Who knew?! And. Why doesn’t everyone know about it already?!

        Do try it with millet polenta, Lien. I think it might not be as much of a struggle. Maybe…. :lalala:

    2. Elle Lachman

      So glad you chose this bread Elizabeth. It sure stretched my skills and the bread itself is delicious. I think the rosemary adds more to the fragrance than the flavor, but that’s OK. Goofed on the original amount of water I put into the Basic Dough, so the extra from the soaked cornmeal was almost the right amount. I noticed in the photos in the book that the cornmeal had been squeezed before being put into the dough, so maybe no all the liquid is meant to go into the dough in the end? Great photos, but not the best directions. Great bread!

      1. Elizabeth

        I am too, Elle. And I’m really glad that you like it too.

        I can understand why you would have goofed on the amount of water (Ha. Freudian slip?) if you were working from the actual book. That recipe is several pages long!

        I didn’t notice the photo at all – I just looked again and must be blind. I still don’t see it – I wish I had for the first loaf I made. I also wish that I had used my head rather than just dumping all that extra water in. But I still think that first loaf might not have been such a terrible disaster if it hadn’t stuck almost irrevokably to the brotform….

        1. Elle Lachman

          They could have just said to squeeze out the cornmeal after the ten minute soak. By the time mine had soaked almost and hour (long walk) there was no way to do that, so I was glad that I had not used enough water in the basic dough. I also added all the polenta ingredients before I did any turns…you directions really are better.

          1. Elizabeth

            I finally noticed the photo. I think they made polenta by stirring it around in a pot over the stove until the water was absorbed.

            I agree. I think my directions are better. (Thank you for saying so) Because they are directions. There are zero directions in the book. It’s as if that section was added at the last minute without anyone proof-reading it.

      1. Elizabeth

        Thank you, Karen. I’m glad the updates helped. Too bad they came so late. (And to think that I imagined this was going to be a complete breeze to make!)

    3. Kelly

      And here I thought I might try out the croc some day. Nope. Nope, nope, nope. Great toast though! And it smells so delicious. Did your pepitas crackle while cooling? I loved it so much I took a little video.

      1. Elizabeth

        Yes! I loved that the pepitas hopped around in the pan as they crackled and popped.

        Not trying the croc? Not even once? Oh come on, Kelly! Be a sport. {heeheeeheeee}

        (As I recall, I think the last time that I tried it, I said that Field was right in saying that you HAVE to use a machine to make the dough. It really isn’t for being made by hand. So, if you have an electric stand mixer, do give it a shot. I’ve seen zillions of photos of other people’s machine made crocs that look fabulous.)

        Ha. Maybe I WILL try making the croc one more time. …when it gets warmer than 15C in the kitchen.

    4. katiezel

      You’re never going to let the poor croc live down its reputation, are you…..
      And – am I wrong or did you like the flavor of the first loaf better? The second one is gorgeous. Well done considering the freezing temperatures. As one who also lives in an old house I completely understand.

      1. Elizabeth

        That’s right, Katie. Never. Every so often, I imagine that I’m going to try the croc one more time. But then I remember that I’ve already done that “one more time” a few times already. The memory of the croc’s slithery mass trying desperately to ooze onto the floor becomes too vivid.

        I’m not sure that we liked the flavour any more or less between the two loaves. Perhaps I gave that impression because we were so surprised that we liked anything at all about the first nightmarish croc in disguise.

        But with the second loaf, we did miss the nice chewy lumps of millet. For the next time, I might soak half the millet, drain it before adding it at the same time as the other half that has been made into millet porridge. I can’t imagine that it would matter if half the millet water doesn’t go into the bread.

    5. Tanna

      You did a magnificent job as KOM with all those updates!
      No the crock will never die among the Babes. Crazy but I think I was the only one who found it doable and we really enjoyed it. After all these years, I should try again, maybe it would be more fun.??
      Pepita’s dancing in the skillet, tasting brilliant … well really everything about this bread intrigue’s and encourages one to bake especially now that you’ve ironed out the wrinkles ;-)

      1. Elizabeth

        I keep wondering if I should tackle the croc again too, Tanna. Now that I’m such an expert {cough} with slack dough. But then I wonder what on earth I’m thinking about. I still have scar tissue from previous croc wrestling. :lalala:

    6. Aparna

      This month’s bread was a true challenge in every sense of the word, but thank you for a wonderful bread, Elizabeth.
      Despite all the difficulties, and that my bread wasn’t the prettiest, it was really good.
      You got me to revive my starter after months, and I’ll try this bread again for sure but with a lesser hydration.

      1. Elizabeth

        I’m so glad you like it, Aparna. And well done on reviving your starter instead of having to create a new one from scratch.

        Yes. less hydration for the next time. And maybe a bit more salt.

    7. Bread Experience

      This was a fabulous choice Elizabeth! I made it for the second time this past weekend. Got better oven spring, but your second loaf is tremendous! Thanks for such a delicious and challenging bake!

      1. Elizabeth

        I’m so pleased you like it, Cathy! And yes, it was certainly challenging, wasn’t it? If I’d known, I’d have stuck to my first choice (or was it the second??) of tortillas. They’re way easier. And almost as tasty. Almost….


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