Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Back to kneading...

The last loaf of bread I made was the Marbled Rye from a couple months ago. Since we finished the last of it from the freezer during the weekend I wanted to make some more today. Walnut and Rosemary Loaves made two round loaves that take on a dark golden crust while baking.

The dough was soft and a bit tacky, but the kneading process went pretty well. Since it has been so cold in the house, I used a trick I learned awhile ago to proof the bread. Leaving the oven light on in ours for a couple hours will bring the temperature inside to just under 85 degrees inside - which makes it a great place for the bread to rise. When I can't use that (like if I'm preheating the oven and it is on it's final rise) I like to wrap a heating pad with a towel and then set dough on top of that and cover it with a bowl - just make sure it does not get too warm. Right before these go into the oven, an egg wash is brushed over the top to aid in the color, then the top is slashed with a sharp knife. I did not get mine as deep as I wanted to because I got hung up on a couple of walnuts. The bread is chewy with a tight crumb and would be a great sandwich bread - the walnut and fresh rosemary flavors really shine through here.

Here's another tip for the crust I used. While the oven is preheating, I also like to place a heavy duty baking sheet on the bottom rack and when I place the bread on the stone, I pour a bit of hot water onto the pan to create steam. You can use ice cubes, but I don't like how much it lowers the oven temperature - hot water works just as well and still makes a large amount of steam.

Tonight's dinner, Polenta Spinach Pie, was a fast recipe to prepare and bursting with flavor. I used white cornmeal instead of yellow (it is what I had on hand) to make the base. The polenta is layered with spinach, a chunky marinara sauce and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Baked until bubbly and golden this was a filling, healthy and a comforting dish. I liked how the textures between the firm polenta against a silky spinach and warm tomato-y top were enhanced by the strong Parmesan.


  1. Great tips on getting bread to rise ... I always have trouble with this.

  2. Yumy! Polenta is delicious and your pie looks great! Another one of your recipes I might try soon!

  3. I have made that bread in the past and we really liked it. I just may need to again now!

  4. AK - I do this frequently! If you have a thermometer it helps to make sure it is not getting too warm.

    Ana - THanks!

    Patti - Yeah! We are really enjoying the leftovers!

  5. Your bread making is awesome and the polenta looks great too.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. hi! have been a lurker here over the past few weeks. fantastic blog! tried your rosemary-walnut loaves yesterday, right here in davao city, philippines, and they came out family loves it sliced and toasted and spread with a bit of honey. many thanks.