Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Polenta Tomato and Basil Bread

Andrew from Spittoon Extra is once again hosting Waiter, There's something in my...and that something is the staff of life, bread.

This is the perfect event to try out one of the latest purchases, Paul Gayler's World Breads and in particular a recipe I've had my eye on since I first picked the book up.

The colour of the bread is the first thing that lures you in and if that wasn't enough, the ingredients leave you unable to resist. Polenta, roasted tomatoes and basil all combine to form this bread - the tomatoes leaving it with a red hue. I have however, sacrificed some of this colour by using Spelt flour but if you use strong white bread flour you will get a much more intense colour.

polenta tomato and basil bread© by haalo

Polenta, Tomato and Basil Bread
[Makes one]

250mls/1 cup water
100 grams fine polenta
10 grams fresh yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
60mls milk
400 grams spelt flour or strong bread flour
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
150mls water, approx
100 grams semi-dried tomatoes (you could use drained sun-blush tomatoes), roughly chopped
5 basil leaves, torn

Place the 1 cup of water into a saucepan and bring to the boil then add the polenta, mixing well until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Put the yeast, sugar and milk into a small bowl - stir to dissolve the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes to ensure the yeast has activated.

Sift the flour with the salt and add to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Break up the cooled polenta and add to the flour. Mix on a low speed until the polenta has worked through the flour much the same way as you would work butter through flour when making pastry.

Pour in the yeast mixture along with the chopped tomatoes and basil and continue to mix - adding water a little at a time until it just comes together. Increase the speed and knead until a soft, smooth and pliable dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured board and knead briefly by hand to form a smooth ball. Place this in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place until doubled in size.

When this happens, turn it out again onto a floured board, gently knock it back and shape to form a long sausage that will fit your bread pan.

Cover and let this rise again for about 45 minutes.

Bake in a pre-heated 180°C/350°F oven for about 30-45 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

polenta tomato and basil bread© by haalo

This is a dense bread but surprisingly it doesn't feel heavy - the polenta leaves it with a wonderfully moist crumb and it's one bread that you can happily eat all by itself.


  1. My kind of bread, Haalo - I love recipes that call for polenta.
    I made a lime polenta cake on the weekend and it was scrumptious!

    Your bread looks beautiful and very tasty!

  2. Your bread just looks fantastic with the semi-dried tomatoes and basil. It looks so rich...Yummy!!

  3. Another "spelt" magic Haalo ;). I notice that spelt bread may look dense, but when you bite into it, you realise how soft and lovely it is!

    Oh, how do you store your spelt flour? Mine said it kept fresh if storing in the fridge... Not sure if it's a good idea.

  4. That is one beautiful looking loaf!

  5. Thanks Patricia - I thought you might like this one, polenta is certainly proving itself to have many more uses than just a savoury side dish.

    Thanks Rose - it has a lovely fragrance and probably the combination of polenta and tomatoes make it wonderfully moist.

    Thanks Anh - good to see spelt has another convert ;) I just keep the spelt the same way as the other flours, sealed container like tupperware.

    Thanks Kristen - your rosemary clover rolls look divine!

  6. I can smell it from here!

    Many thanks for taking part in Waiter

  7. Oh what a gorgeous colour! And the flavours sound delicious - thanks for sharing it with us :)

  8. Thanks Andrew!

    Thanks Jeanne!

  9. Thanks for posting this recipe! I tried it, using the spelt flour and it was delicious! I have practically no experience making bread by hand but now I want to try making more. The dough didn't rise much. But like you said, even though it is dense, it is still light, as strange as that is!

  10. Thanks Kathleen and congratulations on making the bread by hand! I hope you make many more and continue to enjoy the experience.


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