Thursday. Day Four.
I can see the light at the end of the proverbial baking tunnel. I decided to use up most of the rest of old milk and make sour milk bread which is essentially marketed as buttermilk white bread for picky, judgmental eaters. This is, floured hands down, one of my best recipes for using up old milk. It makes the perfect loaf, a finely textured crumb and is great for making toasted sandwiches of all kinds, recipe below. Lovely. I then baked my daughter a classic Italian polenta-ricotta gluten free cake, recipe also below. I was feeling a little guilty about all the gluten I was baking and since she cannot tolerate gluten at all (it literally makes her vomit and writhe in agony with terrible stomach cramps), I thought it was time to make a gluten free treat for her.
Sour Milk Bread Marketed as Buttermilk Bread
5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons active, dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups sour milk
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons good quality olive or herb oil
Mix the yeast with the warmed water and a bit of the sugar. Once it bubbles up, add it to the sifted flour and the rest of the ingredients. Use a stand mixer and a dough hook if you have them. Knead until well mixed and the dough comes together easily into a ball. Cover with a damp cloth in a greased bowl and allow to rise for about two hours until the dough doubles in size.
Punch the dough down and divide the dough into two equal balls. Shape into loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Cover again and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about another 90 minutes or so.
Bake in a preheated, 350-deg F oven for about 30 minutes until the loaves are golden brown and a thin knife inserted in the loaves comes out clean. Allow to coo before inverting and removing from the pans. This bread freezes well and works year-round to round out nearly any meal from a hearty winter stew to a light summer salad.
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup honey, any kind
Zest of 3 lemons or 2 oranges
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1 cup fine yellow or white cornmeal
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup nuts (I use almonds but most nuts will work)
Preheat over to 325-deg F. Whip the egg whites with half the honey until you have soft peaks and set aside. Whip together the butter, the rest of the honey, zest and add in egg yolks one at a time until mixed. Mix in the flour, corn meal and ricotta until blended. Gently fold the white eggs into the flour mixture in two or three batches until combines. Pour the mixture into a decorative, greased cake pan. Top with nuts and bake 40-45 minutes until a think knife inserted in the cake comes out clean.
Polenta cakes have been around as long as frugal Nona’s from Italy have been using up polenta and ricotta and turning those humble ingredients into something special. My daughter, weary and a little queasy right now, really needed a special treat all her own. I know this one is a winner because she called me the second she took a bite. Happy and content, this treat sits well with a queasy stomach and, garnished with berries, fruit and candied orange peel and topped with whipped cream, it becauses a super special dessert.