Polenta Asiago Bread

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Yield: 1 loaf, 16 slices

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One of Italy's great contributions to the world of food is its ability to take humble ingredients to new heights. Polenta is a perfect example. Coarse ground cornmeal is cooked with milk until it reaches a thick, creamy texture. It's then finished with cheese and herbs to make a delicious side dish that enhances any food it's paired with. Polenta's rich golden texture reminds us of captured sunshine. In this case it's the foundation of a tender bread that's just the ticket for that late summer, ultimate local tomato sandwich. Or fill 2 slices with a Mediterranean version of our beloved American BLT: arugula, prosciutto, and tomato.

Polenta Asiago Bread

star rating (8) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
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Total time:
Yield: 1 loaf, 16 slices
Published: 05/26/2011



  • 1/2 cup coarsely ground cornmeal (polenta)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • All of the cooked polenta, cooled to lukewarm
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley, or 1/4 cup chopped fresh
  • More grated cheese to garnish the top

Tips from our bakers

  • Traditionally, dry polenta is sprinkled into simmering liquid, while whisking constantly. While effective, the technique requires some dexterity to avoid making lumps. A more surefire way to make smooth polenta is to wet the cornmeal with some of the recipe's cold liquid before proceeding.


1) To make the polenta: In a medium saucepan, combine the cornmeal and cold water, stirring until the cornmeal is evenly moistened. Stir in the milk and salt, and place the pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently,until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Continue cooking for 5 to 7 minutes more, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm.

2) To make the dough: In the bowl of your mixer combine the cooled polenta, water, yeast and olive oil, stirring until the mixture is smooth. Add the flour, cheese, and parsley, and mix until a soft dough forms. You can also combine the ingredients in the order listed above in the pan of your bread machine set on the dough cycle. Press start and let the machine complete the cycle, checking the dough's consistency after 2 minutes of kneading time, adding a tablespoon more flour or water if necessary to adjust it.

3) Knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes, until it's smooth and springy. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

4) After the dough has risen, deflate it and divide it in thirds. Roll each piece to a rope about 10 inches long. Braid the dough, pinching the ends together to seal them and tucking them under the loaf. Place the braid in a lightly greased 9" x 5" loaf pan. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap or a large inverted bowl, and let rise until the dough is an inch above the rim of the pan; about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the warmth of the room.

5) After 20 minutes of rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F. When the loaf is ready to bake, remove the covering and sprinkle the top with more grated asiago cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the center measures 190°F when measured with an instant-read thermometer. Remove the bread fro the oven and place the pan on a rack to cool for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the read out of the pan and return it to the rack to finish cooling completely before slicing.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 1 slice, 61g Servings Per Batch: 16 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 125 Calories from Fat: 34 Total Fat: 4g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 25mg Sodium: 205mg Total Carbohydrate: 18g Dietary Fiber: 1g Sugars: 1g Protein: 5g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.


  • star rating 02/07/2015
  • michwel from KAF Community
  • This bread was easy and tasty . I made the dough in the bread machine and needed to add a tablespoon or two of flour. The bread was pretty although it didn't have as big a rise as a white bread. I think the polenta flavor overpowered the asiago a little bit. Next time I would probably tweak the ratio.
  • star rating 01/26/2014
  • Sandi from Kennesaw GA
  • I'm not a novice baker so when I say this recipe is bad, I mean it. The polenta makes for a weird dough that is difficult to hydrate and it does not become cohesive. Approach with caution. Even after speaking with bakers chat, the dough could not be salvaged. I strongly suggested to KA that they take recipe down and go back to the test kitchen with it.
    I am sorry you had such bad luck with this bread. ~Jaydl@KAF
  • star rating 11/27/2012
  • Terri from Houston
  • I made this today using regular cornmeal. If any of our local markets sell the course ground I have not yet found it, and online prices is more then I want to spend on cornmeal. Anypoo, I used regular cornmeal and the texture turned out desirable. I have never had course cornmeal before but I will make this recipe again.
  • star rating 08/19/2012
  • Nathalia from Medford, MA
  • This bread is so soft and taste so good! It's my husband favorite bread to put on the panini press to make a sandwich.
  • star rating 10/18/2011
  • Lizsch from KAF Community
  • The dough was pretty sticky and needed some extra flour. The taste was great. Braiding the bread and then baking it in a loaf pan, gave it great finished look. My family loved it!
  • star rating 09/28/2011
  • happenstance from KAF Community
  • Hi, I made this into 12 super tender tasty rolls with the addition of 1t. of powdered garlic and some black pepper. The dough was a bit sticky and I added another 1/2 cup of flour, but the main reason it seemed so sticky is that the gluten strands kept being broken as it was kneaded. So when it got to the "right" firmness I scooped it out into a greased bowl. (I recommend not oiling your bowl if you are making rolls). I also used regular cornmeal but made sure to cook it to a fairly dry and thick state to get rid of the extra moisture. This bread could be a meal in itself, anything along with it is bland in comparison :). Thanks for the recipe!
  • 09/08/2011
  • maryasheville from KAF Community
  • Thanks for your feedback, Elisabeth. My cornmeal was stone-ground, but I don't know how coarse it actually was - I will make sure I have the proper grind next time. I did use KAF bread flour (I couldn't make my 10-grain bread without it and KAF whole wheat!) and I do live in an often-humid area, but I've never had to add so much extra flour. I'll be trying this bread again soon because it was delicious and I will report on your suggested changes.
  • star rating 08/31/2011
  • maryasheville from KAF Community
  • Qualified endorsement because I think this recipe has potential but needs some work. It was very tasty (especially since I added some dried Italian herbs and fresh-ground black pepper to the polenta while it cooked). Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly, which I usually do the first time I try a recipe. But I had to add a LOT more flour - I didn't measure, but it was at least a full cup - to get a soft, pliable but not sticky dough in my stand mixer. That seemed to make the polenta flavor and texture disappear. I'll be aiming for a slice-able yeast bread with more of a cornbread flavor and texture in my future experiments. This recipe is good enough to play with!
    Thank you for your feedback. Be sure you are using coarsely grained cornmeal. Finer will change the texture. If it has been humid in your area, your flour will have extra moisture which may explain the need for more flour. Also, be sure to use bread flour as the recipe calls for. Bread flour absorbs more moisture. If we get any more comments similar to along the lines of what you observed, we may need to take a closer look at this recipe! Elisabeth

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