PUMPERNICKEL AND POLENTA SODA BREAD
This dense dark loaf has a rich caraway flavour and just the faintest earthy hint of molasses. I love that it tastes and looks just like a loaf of ‘real’ rye bread but is remarkably quick to make. Just one thing with this, it’s important to be aware that batches of flour vary somewhat in the amount of moisture they absorb, so if the dough seems a bit too sticky when you bring it together, add a little extra plain or rye flour to it (but no more than ¼ cup.)
Makes 1 small loaf (recipe can be doubled to make two loaves.)
Fine polenta, for dusting
160g stone-ground wholemeal flour
90g unbleached plain flour
80g rye flour (or more if needed)
60g fine polenta, (preferably organic stone-ground)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon sea salt, crushed
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, plus a little extra for sprinkling
1 ⅓ cups (330ml) buttermilk
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
A little extra flour, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 210C. Lay a sheet of baking paper onto a flat oven tray and dust the paper with a little polenta.
Tip all three flours, the polenta, baking powder, bicarb soda, sea salt and caraway seeds into a large bowl. Whisk them together for a minute or so with a balloon whisk. In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, honey and molasses. (If it’s a cold day and the honey is thick, you can gently warm the honey and molasses so they mix into the buttermilk easily.) Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Mix together with a wooden spoon – it will be very sticky. The one thing you don’t want to do is over-do the mixing, as this toughens the bread. Just bring the dough together so it’s soft and very tacky and then tip it out onto the prepared baking tray.
With floured hands, shape the dough into a little football, then with a serrated knife make 4 or 5 very shallow slashes diagonally across the loaf (if they’re too deep the loaf opens out a bit too much and is drier than it should be.) Sieve a fine dusting of flour over the top, and sprinkle with a few more caraway seeds if you like.
Bake the loaf for about 30-35 minutes or until the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it with your knuckles. Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack and leave it for about an hour before slicing (hard as it is, as it smells so good.) Unlike many soda breads leftovers keep well for a day or two in a sealed plastic bag.
Belinda Jeffery .com
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