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.
250mls/1 cup water
100 grams fine polenta
10 grams fresh yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
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.
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.