It is a quiet Sunday morning in Rome, and we have a lunch invitation from friends with a private garden. Private gardens are rare here, as most of us live in flats, and even a large terrace is a luxury, though in most films set in Rome everyone seems to have rooftop terraces with stunning views. We like our little balcony, where I grow herbs and dry laundry, and where friends can smoke and watch the traffic.
Still, on a sunny spring like today, it will be glorious to go out for lunch, to drink prosecco in the sun, while the barbecue sizzles and we enjoy the company of good friends. They live near the Appia Antica, so we may end up there later. I should probably excavate some sunscreen, and a hat. As my contribution, I am bringing these easy sourdough polenta bread rolls.
Easy sourdough polenta bread rolls for Sunday brunch
100g mature sourdough starter (100% hydration, this one was rye/wheat based)
30g coarse rye flour
50g wholewheat flour
350g plain flour (here, 00)
5g salt (add after half an hour)
For baking, a little poppyseeds or mixed seeds
The evening before: mix the ingredients, and stir. Cover bowl with a shower cap. Leave for half an hour, then add salt and fold dough in bowl (a spatula or spoon works for me). Enjoy dinner and a couple old episodes of Black Books, and fold the dough a few more times. You will see the dough developing structure, and increasing slightly in volume. This is a typical 500g flour/350-400g water recipe, it generally works for both yeast and sourdough baking. More water may be needed, depending on the flours used. I added polenta this time, just for a little extra crunch.
Here’s the dough after a night in the fridge. And that’s my starter in the jar in the back, fed yesterday — I just do 50g or so, then feed before baking, without discarding extra starter – it seems to work. I’ve been leaving it unrefrigerated more, which seems to improve it, and baking smaller batches of bread. Anyway, back to the bread rolls:
Divide the dough in half, and roll it into a rough sausage shape. It will be quite sticky. Using a spatula or knife, divide each roll into 6-7 pieces. You could roll these into a nice tight shape, using more flour, but I wanted a more rustic type roll and just dolloped then onto a baking sheet with baking parchment. Optional: sprinkle some seeds on the rolls, pressing down slightly so they do not fall off. Let rolls rise 20 min or so while oven heats up.
Bake at 230C for 20-25 minutes or so, in the middle of the oven, until they look golden and sound hollow when tapped from below. These took about 25 min, a bit longer than expected, but done they are and off to lunch we now go, with piping hot rolls (and sunscreen….)
Notes: I started the dough last night, you could swap out the sourdough with 1 dry yeast and make it the same way. I added seeds to only half the bread rolls, as there will be small children present at the lunch who are not fond of seeded bread.