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The Bread Topic (2016-)

251 posts in this topic

A question about cornmeal use in bread: My husband is really into baking bread these days, which of course is a very good thing. But we had a stupid argument this morning. He's about to bake the Seeded Wheat Bread from the Della Fattoria book (we've eaten it from their bakery in Petaluma CA) and the recipe specifies "polenta."


Okay, I venture that at least half of you have had this discussion about polenta vs grits vs cornmeal vs corn flour and all the permutations in between. My take on polenta vs grits is that one is the Italian way of making corn meal mush and one is the southern US way. Although in my experience a greater percentage of polenta is sold finely ground and grits is often a coarse grind, that doesn't change the fact that it is all ground corn and can be white or yellow, fine or coarse, depending on your upbringing or your texture preferences.


I don't make polenta any more. I make grits, and I buy it stone-ground from Geechie Boy on Edisto Island and it is relatively coarse. I'm an addict. If I were making an Italian dish that suggested serving it on a puddle of polenta I would make my Geechie Boy grits and be a happy camper. If a recipe for cake included "fine grind polenta" I would grind up my Bob's cornmeal a bit and go with that. 


In well-stocked shops that sell a lot of Italian products you can find polenta in different grinds. When my husbands shops the bulk isle at Berkeley Bowl he finds just one product labeled "polenta" and he says it is coarser than Bob's medium grind corn meal. BB Probably simplifies to one grind for those who are less discriminating and who prefer to buy in bulk. They probably also sell various grinds of polenta in packages in a different isle. 


So the main question is this: if a recipe for bread says simply "polenta" what would you do? Personally I would decide for myself whether I liked my cornmeal medium or fine grind for any given loaf and I would use the Bob's medium ground cornmeal as is or grind it just a bit more if I wanted it finer.  But my husband seems stuck in a loop which does not involve taking MY WORD FOR IT. 


Andiesenji and many others can no doubt make quick work of this morass. Thanks in advance!

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