Tara Jensen’s Grits Bread

Tara Jensen’s Grits Bread

Course: BreadDifficulty: Advanced


Active Prep Time


Resting Time


Cooking Time



This recipe by Tara Jensen is an improved version of the difficult grits bread from her book Flour Power. Due to the high ratio of water to flour and the inclusion of a hefty amount of cooked grits, this dough can be trickier to work with, but results in a delicious and rewarding loaf that you’ll certainly want to try.



  • THE NIGHT BEFORE: Sourdough Starter & Grits
  • Refresh your sourdough starter. Tara recommends feeding 50g of active starter with 100g of flour and 100g of water.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the grits and water and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and creamy. Remove from the heat, cool, and transfer to a one-quart deli container (or similar container) and cool to room temperature. Cover with a lid and set aside until you’re ready to mix. The grits will be fine to stay out overnight, but if you prefer to transfer them to the fridge, bring them up to room temperature prior to using.
  • DAY ONE: Mixing, Folding, Shaping, Proofing, and Chilling
  • In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the bread flour, whole wheat flour, and the water (for the first mix) by hand until there are no patches of dry flour. You can squeeze the dough through your hands, like you’re extruding pasta between your fingers! The dough will be sticky, gluey, and shaggy.
  • Pop a digital thermometer into the dough to take its temperature – it should be between 75°F and 81°F. If the dough it above 81°F, stick it in a cool spot (not the refrigerator) until it cools down. If it is cooler than 75°F, place it in a warm location until it reaches between 75°F and 78°F.
  • Cover the bowl with a dinner plate or sheet pan and let rest for 1 hour.
  • Sprinkle the salt over the dough. Next, add the starter, the water (for the second mix), and the cooled grits. Incorporate by hand or using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. The dough will become stringy and fall apart; that’s normal, just keep mixing until it re-forms into a cohesive mass. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
  • Once the dough is relaxed, you will give it a series of three folds spaced 1 hour apart. To fold, smear a little water onto your work surface. Using a dough scraper, gather the dough together and (with a quick motion) scoop the dough up with the dough scraper and flip it onto the wet table. Using your hands, lift the dough off the table, then slap the bottom half down, so that it sticks a little. Gently leaning back, stretch the dough and then quickly lean forward, tossing the dough still in your hands over the portion stuck to the table. Repeat three to four times. The dough will become smooth and pull itself into a ball. Using the dough scraper, return the dough to its container, smooth-side up, cover with the plate or sheet pan, and let rest for 1 hour. Repeat the process two more times, with 1 hour between folding sessions.
  • Lightly dust your table with flour. Using a dough scraper, gather the dough together in the bowl and, with a quick motion, scoop the dough up with the dough scraper and flip it onto the table. Pat into a rectangle with a short side facing you. Bring the edge of the dough closest to you to the top (the edge farthest from you), leaving a 1-inch lip. Take the sides of the dough, gently stretch each outward a few inches, then quickly cross them over each other so they are on top of each other, like swaddling a baby. Next, stretch the edge of the dough closest to you up to the top, flush with the top edge. Gently press to create a seam.
  • Use your hands or a bench knife to gently drag the loaf on the table to create surface tension. You will see it tighten and become smooth as you drag. Make sure the top stays the top and the dough doesn’t roll over as you go. The dough will curl into itself, so the seam is now on the bottom and the top is smooth and roundish.
  • Sprinkle the dough with flour, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rest 30 minutes.
  • While the dough is resting, ready the uncooked grits that the dough will be rolled in. Run a kitchen towel under water quickly (you want it damp, not soaking) and place it over half of a sheet pan. Toss a handful of grits opposite the kitchen towel. Set aside.
  • Lightly dust a cloth-lined 9-inch round proofing basket with flour and set aside. Lightly dust your table with flour. Using a bench knife, flip over the relaxed round. Imagine the round into four corners. Stretch the edge of each quarter to the center of the round, overlapping them slightly, about 1 inch, to make a pouch shape. Now turn the “pouch” on its side, cupping the portion that was flush with the table in one hand, and cinch the gathered portions together with the edge of your palm, sealing the seam. Glide the dough down the table so that the seam is sealed between the edge of your palm and the table. Roll the dough over the damp towel and through the grits and use the bench knife to transfer it to the round proofing basket, seam-side up.
  • Loosely cover the proofing basket with a kitchen towel and proof in a draft-free spot at room temperature for 2-3 hours. When fully proofed, the loaf will appear to have doubled in size, feel full of air, and pass the poke test (see notes below).
  • When proofed, transfer the proofing basket, covered with a shower cap or kitchen towel, to the fridge for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.
  • DAY TWO: Baking
  • Set a combo cooker on a rack in the oven so the skillet is on the bottom and the pot is inverted as a lid. Preheat the oven (and the combo cooker) to 500°F.
  • Wearing welding gloves, remove the combo cooker from the oven (it’s hot!) and quickly toss the cold dough seam-side down onto the hot skillet portion of the cooker. Use a lame and razor, with the blade at a 35-degree angle, to score a pattern of your choice on the top of the round.
  • Immediately cover the bread with the inverted pot for a lid and load it back into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the combo cooker from the oven and set on the stovetop. Remove the lid (be careful of hot steam) and reduce the oven temperature to 475°F. Return the bread, still on the skillet portion of the combo cooker, to the oven and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the loaf is deeply browned, reaches an internal temperature of 190°F, and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Carefully remove the bread from the skillet and cool completely. Store for up to 5 days, cut-side down, in a paper bag tucked inside a cloth bag.


  • To perform the poke test, use your index finger to firmly jab the dough. Watch how the dough rises back. If it springs back immediately, it’s not relaxed enough and needs more time. If the poke leaves an indent that slowly rises back, then the bread is ready to be baked or transferred to the refrigerator. If you press your finger into the dough and you can hear gas escaping, then the dough has over proofed, and it should be baked immediately.

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