Monday 16 September 2013

Sourdough polenta cheese bread - a recipe for The Good Life

I experiment with sourdough bread to incorporate vegan cheeze in memory of Barbara's humourous bread and cheese supper on The Good Life.

Television show: The Good Life, sit-com, UK, 1975-1978.

What does it mean to me?
The Good Life is another of the British comedies I grew up loving as I sat on the couch with my family in convulsions of laughter.  I just loved the joie de vivre of Tom and Barbara Good in their (often inept) quest for self-sufficiency. Meanwhile the well-meaning but upwardly mobile neighbours Jerry and Margo made me laugh.

In hindsight, my childhood had quite a lot in common with the Goods.  We lived on a large country town block with chooks, the occasional lamb, fruit trees, a vegie patch with a scarecrow.  My mum baked bread and cakes, bottled fruit, made jam and tomato sauce.  We also liked a laugh!

Not that we were self-sufficient.  Though my mum had to make a half hour drive to the nearest town to go to a supermarket, she bought unhomogenised milk at a local dairy and fruit and vegetables from the local Italian green grocer. 

NB: In the USA, the series was renamed Good Neighbours to avoid confusion with another show of the same title.

Food moment:
I was delighted to find a snippet of a Good Life episode on YouTube in which Barbara serves Tom bread and cheese for dinner.  The cheese comes from their goat Geraldine and the bread, baked by Barbara, is enormous.  Jerry and Margo are visiting.  They mention rather proudly that they are having game soup and smoked salmon at their place.  I know which meal I would prefer.

Recipe notes:
I originally planned to make my own vegan cheese to serve with some home made bread.  Vegan MoFo has found me rather busy.  After baking cheeze crackers with vegan parmesan (above), I was inspired to try similar flavours in bread.  It was still bread and cheese but the cheese was in the bread.

I have only recently started to bake sourdough bread.  This was my first loaf that I experimented with anything but a rather plain white loaf.  I did intend to follow a recipe but couldn't find the one I wanted so I made it up.  All things considered, it wasn't too shabby.

The dough was a little stiff, possible from the polenta and from me deciding during kneading that some nutritional yeast flakes and lemon juice might go well.  So I kneaded them in.  Not advisable.  Nevertheless the dough rose, perhaps a tad much.  The final loaf had a good crumb and was reasonably moist, though perhaps a little less so than other sourdough breads I have made.  Not a perfect loaf but very edible.

Random notes:
We all enjoyed the bread in sandwiches and with dinner.  At first Sylvia baulked at the sight.  It was yellow.  Fortunately she got past the shallow judgements that characterise her eating.  (Tonight I made her favourite tofu bacon but I accidentally bought a softer tofu than usual.  It was a struggle to get her to eat any.)

I am keen to keep experimenting with sourdough recipes.  But I still feel like I am getting a feel for sourdough.  Despite this I gave my mum some sourdough starter to play with last week and she really enjoyed it.  Explaining how to make a loaf felt like the blind leading the blind but she is a capable bread baker and made a lovely loaf.

I am sending the bread rolls to Susan for YeastSpotting.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Heidi's easy little bread
Two years ago: Loss, spring garden, rice bake, soup, tacos
Three years ago: MLLA Holiday Pasties
Four years ago: Fruit scones, yellow and uncertainty
Five years ago: NCR: Spring Strawberry Soup

Sourdough polenta cheese bread
An original recipe from Green Gourmet Giraffe

350g starter from the fridge (not fed recently)
450-550g plain white flour
300g filtered water
3/4 cup polenta
1 cup vegan cheezly parmesan (about 100g), grated
3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp sea salt
  • Feed starter with 100g flour and 100g water.  Leave to double in size - about 10-12 hours for me.
  • Feed starter 200g flour and 200g water and leave until really bubbly - I did this in the late evening and left mine overnight and during the day until about 2pm.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup of flour, polenta, parmesan, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice and sea salt.  Check texture of dough and add a little more flour if needed - it should be slightly sticky but together enough with a bit of flour to knead (I put in 1 cup flour here but wonder if a little less would have better.)
  • Knead dough for 10 to 20 minutes until it is a pliable consistency.  With the polenta it was slightly more gritty than regular bread dough.  Knead in extra flour as needed to get the right consistency.
  • Place in bowl covered with plastic wrap and leave to double in size.  When you press your finger into the dough it should not bounce back.  I left mine for about 2 and 1/2 hours.
  • Stretch and fold dough (ie handle it gently) and place in lightly greased bread tin or baking tray until almost risen in size.  I suspect mine had risen a bit much after 2 hours.  Meanwhile preheat oven to 210-220 C.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes or until crust is brown and loaf feels hollow when tapped.  Cool on a wire rack and do not cut for at least an hour after coming out of the oven.
Notes: See my basic sourdough loaf post for more information about sourdough.  I assume this recipe would work with dairy parmesan but I would advise leaving out the nutritional yeast flakes and lemon juice in this case.
On the Stereo:
Bellavista Terrace: The Best of the Go-Betweens 

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food September 2013.  This year for Vegan MoFo I am cooking recipes inspired by some favourite tv shows - and veering off topic occasionally.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.    


  1. You go, Johanna! Your bread not only sounds heavenly, it looks "divine." I'm so glad Sylvia saw past the color so now you will be able to include her in the process. I just knew you were going to LOVE playing with sourdough and now look at you! Terrific!

    Thank you so much for sharing, Johanna... Absolutely Pinned this!

  2. Polenta, parmesan, nutritional yeast? ALL THE GOOD THINGS!

  3. It's funny when little people baulk at the colour of something. I've had frequent squeals of NOOO! Because the colour wasn't what the expected.
    Love polenta in bread too.

  4. We started watching The Good Life on BBC iPlayer just last week. What a blast from the past. I remember watching it with my parents in the 70s. I was happy to find that it's still really funny. We even saw the very first episode where Tom leaves his job - I'd never seen that before!

  5. Hi Johanna! Thanks for visiting my blog. In answer to your question, An Apple Bee is like a sewing bee where a group of people, usually women, get together to string and dry apple slices. Be bold and link! It would be my honor:) Thanks, Louise

  6. Drusilla yields a lot of fancy things! :D I've been sitting on a bag of polenta for a while, which I snatched at an organic food offer at the supermarket. Actually I thought I wasn't fond of corn (I bought it in a fancy mood), but recently I've tried corn thins which taste good, and I also liked popcorn and cornflakes as a child, although I haven't eaten them in ages! I was thinking about making a corn bread ... Now the question is whether it will work without any wheat flour! :D

    1. @kath - I have made cornbread with besan flour which worked fine - am sure other GF flours would work too - esp as it is polenta which is the star in cornbread - good luck with it

  7. Ah, the Good Life is another brilliant one! Your bread looks perfect, although I actually have never got into store-bought vegan cheese. But here I suppose you get the flavour but not the texture which I think is what I dislike.
    I do love homemade nut cheeses though.

    1. @ Emma - the cheezly parmesan was good but not great as the texture was softer than I expect from parmesan - I love home made nut cheeses too but found the parmesan really good in baking because sometimes I like cheesy bakes - last vegan mofo I made vegan cheese and used some in scones which worked really well so I would be interested in trying home made cheese here

  8. That's a lovely story about how you grew up. My mother grew vegetables and we had a few fruit trees and a glass house full of grapes and cucumbers and capsicum and tomatoes but we weren't self-sufficient either. But it was lovely as a child to be able to get involved with gardening and watch things grow and then when ripe, bring into the kitchen xx

    1. @Charlie - I don't remember so much of watching things grow but I guess I must have - it is nice to see my parents grow vegies and know it is something I can do - I love that you had a glasshouse - that sounds fancy!

  9. Oh, I loved The Good Life! How lovely that your own childhood had similarities with it - on the days I decide I will be unemployed in a year's time, I daydream about living that sort of life and it makes the prospect of being out of a job so much better (if still a bit unrealistic!) :-) I like the sound of this bread too, very much indeed.

    1. @Kari - baking my own bread is probably the closest I come to the good life - I dream of growing vegies and love having a few things in our yard that I can use in cooking but still need to develop my green thumb

  10. I so wish that I grew up on a farm. I hope that I come to own one or live on one at some point in my life. I feel as though I wasn't made for the city. I have just started to try and grow my own veggies so wish me luck! I think that your bread is awesome and I wish I had the patience to make a starter!

    1. @Cass - I had friends on farms which was really nice for me especially when we wanted to go camping in tents - if you don't want to make a starter you can buy one or just be nice to a blogger living nearby who has one and can gift you some - I would give you some of mine if you were closer (but you aren't in Melb - right?)

  11. Great looking bread. We didn't watch The Good Life.

  12. I love the Good Life, I could watch it over and over again! Great looking bread :)

  13. Great heavens to Murgatroyd this looks good! I just saved your original white sourdough and am going to HAVE to get a new starter on the ferment now after seeing this. Heaven on a baking slide ma'am :)


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