Dissolve the yeast in the water, then mix in the polenta, sugar and plantain. Add quarter of the flour, mix well, and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes. Add the paprika, olive oil, fish sauce and half the remaining flour and mix well together, then add the rest of the flour and knead well for 5 minutes, either by hand or in a mixer with a dough hook attached. The dough should be moist but not sticky: if it’s too wet add more flour; if it’s too dry add a little warm water and knead again for a minute. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 40 minutes.
Turn the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 and sprinkle a baking tray with an extra half cup of polenta grains. Divide the dough into two and gently stretch each piece into a rather rugged-looking log 30cm (12in) long. Put them on the tray, brush with warm water and then sprinkle each loaf with 3 tablespoons of polenta. Leave in a warm place for 20 minutes before placing in the top half of the oven and cooking for 35 minutes. Test that the bread is cooked by tapping the bottom of a loaf – it should sound hollow; cook for a little longer if it isn’t ready. Remove the bread from the oven and brush each loaf with an extra 30ml (1fl oz) olive oil, place on a cake rack and leave to cool a little before eating – if you can resist that long.
© 1997 Peter Gordon. All rights reserved.