Bread is always on the table in Italy, whether at home or at the restaurant. So when the first migrants arrived in Australia their bread was home-made – in home-made brick ovens!
- 1 kg good quality bread flour (see Note), plus extra for dusting
- 250 g coarse polenta
- 2 tsp dried yeast
- 2 tbsp flaked sea salt
- 3 cups (750 ml) tepid water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.
Resting time 2½ hours
Place flour, polenta, yeast and salt in a large bowl, or mixer bowl for a stand mixer. Mix to combine, gradually add tepid water, mixing and kneading until the dough is smooth and wet (you may need a little less or a little more water, depending on the quality of the flour).
Cover with a slightly damp tea towel, then set aside in a warm spot for 2 hours or until doubled in size. Dust a clean work surface with flour, place dough on the bench, divide in half and form each half into a loaf shape.
Transfer the loaves to baking trays dusted with flour, dust tops lightly with flour and cover with clean tea towels. Leave for a further 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to a 200°C fan-forced.
Brush the tops of the loaves with a little water, then slash in three places with a sharp knife. Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden, turning the loaves halfway through cooking. Place on a cooling rack until warm.
• Look for a good quality bread flour with a high protein content for better bread, as it is the protein, or gluten which gives the bread structure. Ideally it should be at least 12-15% protein.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Michelle Noerianto.