ROMANIA – Tară Pâine – country bread

 

DSC_8823Corn and polenta seem to be very popular in Romanian cuisine, so it was no surprise that this bread included cornmeal. What was a surprise was that it baked really well. The last times I’ve used cornmeal I have been less than impressed.

Rating:

  • Faithfulness to recipe: Yes, though I used butter instead of shortening.
  • Met expectations? Better than I expected.
  • Would cook again? Yes.
  • The taste test rated on a score of 5: 4.5. Lovely with some butter.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour (plain)
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal

Method

Note: I made only half the quantity as I only wanted one bread.

  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine yeast, 1/3 cup lukewarm water and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add 2 cups lukewarm water, melted butter, salt and 2 cups all-purpose flour. Beat with a wooden spoon or paddle attachment just until dry ingredients are moist.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour with cornmeal. Add 1 cup at a time to the yeast mixture, beating well after each addition. If dough appears too sticky, add 1/2 cup flour.
  3. Switch to the dough hook and knead until elastic, about 6 minutes (or knead by hand).
  4. Form dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until doubled.
  5. Grease 2 (9-inch round pans) or 1 large round pan and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal.
  6. Punch down dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Knead dough a few turns and divide in half if making two loaves or leave whole and shape into a round.
  7. Place in prepared pan(s). Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  8. Heat oven to 175C. When dough has risen for the second time, slash an X shape into the top, if desired, and sprinkle with cornmeal.
  9. Place in oven and bake 50 to 55 minutes or until toothpick or skewer tests clean and instant-read thermometer registers 190 degrees.
  10. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then tip out of pan onto rack and turn bread(s) right-side up. Let cool completely before cutting.
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