Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bread Adventures Pine Nut Studded Polenta & Sweet Provencal Flatbread with Anise Seeds

I apologize for taking so long to share my progress with these fantastic breads in Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  As you probably know, I haven't written much in several months.  This has been a year of slogging through the desert for me personally... I have a difficult time writing when I am not in a good frame of mind.  I think I'm a little like Thumper in the movie Bambi... remember?  "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all"  So, for much of this year - that has been exactly where I have lived.  If I can't inspire or amuse you, then I have no business spreading my miasma around!

But, that said - it has been a year of trying new things, being nice to myself, and being more consistent with the things I choose to spend my time on.... which has been MORE reading and LESS computer time :-)  Now to push on for MORE exercise!

For these breads:

The first thing I needed to learn is the difference between polenta and the corn flour in my cupboard

For cornmeal, grits and polenta, the major difference is the coarseness of the grind.
Cornmeal tends to be finer ground than polenta for example which makes for a very different texture and cooking time. Polenta is poor choice for cornbread because of this.
Corn flour (which you didn't ask about) is even finer than cornmeal.

Hominy grits (as opposed to grits) is hominy meal. Masa harina (aha!  I have seen this in my grocery store!) is nixtamalized (i.e. lye-soaked, hulled and rinsed) corn ground into a flour that you can then use to make masa, the wet dough (or you can in some places get freshly ground masa dough by the pound). In the Southwest you can often find bags of nixtamal (unground corn) in the cooler case at local groceries. This is usually ground for tamale dough because it is difficult to grind fine enough at home for tortillas.

Anyway - I could not find polenta flour at this time so I used the above definitions and decided to use the corn meal I COULD find!

Pine nuts are horrendously expensive in the one grocery store where I found them so I went back online to my favorite resource:

I know I have talked about this company before but I have to repeat - they are simply awesome!  Reasonable prices and really quick shipping!  I usually get my order within a couple of days - unbelievable for where I live.  I usually have to wait 1-2 weeks for even the quickest companies....  but I get my orders from before I even start looking for the shipment.

Above is the Pine Nut Studded Polenta...... yummy very light corn flavor (might be stronger if you use real polenta... I will try again when I do!)  And the pine nuts are a nice surprise - though my husband voted for no nuts next time around.

Below is the Sweet Provencal Flatbread with Anise Seeds

My little triangles aren't very pretty.... perhaps the bread isn't flat enough?  I am not sure but there wasn't a photo so I forged ahead in my own inimitable fashion!

The flavor of this bread is absolutely fantastic!  I am not particularly fond of anise.. but in THIS bread it is awesome.  The light anise flavor is enhanced with the addition of orange juice.... offering a unique refreshing taste.

Both of these breads made their debut at a church potluck.... while I enjoyed the polenta the best.... the potluck diners voted for the Anise flatbread hands down!

I hope you are enjoying my baking lessons and are trying some experiments of your own!

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