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Monday, May 18, 2009

BBA Challenge #1 - Anadama Bread

Before I could start on my first loaf of bread for the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge, I needed some bread flour because I was out. So, I sent my man to the store.

Does my man deliver or what???

Now, before my fellow bread bakers have a conniption fit because I'm using Costco's brand of bleached bread flour instead of a fancy King Arthur organic unbleached bread flour, you have to understand that we are on a very strict budget these days. I stopped at the Target across from my office to pick some up and got to the checker with my King Arthur unbleached bread flour in tow only to find that the 5 pound bag was ringing up at almost $7.

Um, no, thanks.

Considering that my 50 pound bag from Costco cost us $12, I think it will have to work.

A word about Anadama bread for the unfamiliar: it's an interesting combination of ingredients including corn meal and molasses. Now, I didn't have anything but regular dark molasses on hand, and again with the budget issues, I was not going to go out and purchase light molasses for this one thing.

You start out making a soaker which is a pre-ferment mixture of cornmeal and water and allow it to sit overnight. Soaking the cornmeal is supposed to allow it to begin to soften and to draw more flavor out of the coarse cornmeal.

Then I added yeast, flour and water for the sponge.

1 hour later:

Then came the rest of the ingredients and a good mixing in the stand mixer with the paddle attachment. At this point the book suggests that I may even need to add water to achieve a "soft, slightly sticky mass."

Well, the fact that my "dough" was dripping off the paddle attachment like batter concerned me a little.

I continued to add some flour until it was a little thicker, then I decided to try to hand knead it and help it to become more "tacky" rather than "sticky." So, I poured it (very literally) out on to my floured counter top.

(Yes, I have dogs and I KNOW that at this point it looks like dog vomit. Thanks.)

In fact, it you were on Twitter on Friday evening when I was working on the bread you would have experienced my woes real-time. Here are some of my tweets from Friday evening.

I'm having a bit of a problem getting the dough to be "tacky" and not "sticky." Letting it rest for a minute. Or maybe it's me. #bba
10:40 PM May 15th from web

Hubs is watching a movie on tv in the other room. I asked him what he was watching. He said one thing and I heard another.
10:51 PM May 15th from web

He said "Bourne" (as in Bourne Supremacy). I heard, "P---"
10:52 PM May 15th from web

I'm beginning to think that the "window pane" test is an urban legend. Looking it up on snopes now. #bba
11:01 PM May 15th from web

@LMAshton I got pretty close this time. IMO it's a window "PAIN" test. #bba
11:12 PM May 15th from web in reply to LMAshton

On the upside, kneading the Anadama dough with all the cornmeal in it, my hands are very smooth. #bba
11:15 PM May 15th from web

(That tweet about the Bourne Supremacy was just to see if you were paying attention. But, yes, that really did happen Friday evening.)

Finally it got to the point where I felt like I could leave it to do it's first fermentation. I even checked the temperature like Mr. Reinhart suggests in the book. He said it should register between 77 & 81 F. Mine was in the 80 F range.

About 1 - 1 1/2 hours later (it was late - notice the change in date):

Once it had risen/doubled in bulk, I shaped and panned the loaves while having to adjust and guess on the loaf sizes since my bread pans are different sizes.

Then I covered them and put them in the fridge until morning.

Nighty night.

I was fairly surprised at how much the loaves rose in the fridge overnight.

It didn't take long for them to warm up and proof the rest of the way before baking the next morning.

A little spritz of water and sprinkling of cornmeal and into the oven they went.

And out popped this loaf of bread...

Overall impressions:

This was not a difficult bread to make on any level really. It was a nice basic bread to start out with and yet added the soaker step which I had not ever done before.

The Anadama bread is good. Not FABULOUS by any means and not as sweet as I expected. But good. I can totally see it as a good bread or toast to have with breakfast.

Would I make it again? Yes.


Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Beautiful job!! I am very impressed, of course! So way more homemade than I would do! :)

Laurie Ashton Farook said...

Did you end up having to add more flour to get it to the proper consistency or was it just the kneading that got it there?

Wondering because I'm planning on tackling this recipe in the next couple or three days.

Donna @ Way More Homemade said...

Laurie - Sorry if I didn't make that clear. It was extremely late and my eyes were very sleepy as I was writing. Yes, I did have to add quite a bit more flour. I added another 1/2 - 3/4 cup before I poured it onto the counter. Then hand kneaded in a bit more; maybe 1/4 - 1/2 cup. I then put it back in the stand mixer with the dough hook and let it knead a little bit there, then took it back out and hand kneaded it some more when my mixer started getting a little warm. ~Donna

Laurie Ashton Farook said...

I'm a bit fuzzy myself, so it could also be me with lowered reading comprehension levels. :)

So a grand total of somewhere around 3/4 to 1 1/4 cups additional flour added. Good to know the ballpark. :) Thanks!

I'm making severe modifications to mine, so it'll be interesting to see what happens...

beyond this moment said...

I wish I had room for bread making. I miss the smell of it. My dad used to make huge batches of bread from sourdough starter every week. The smell was fantastic and I've yet to be able to make it as well as he did.

Sean said...

Those tweets were funny. Have fun with the Artos.

susies1955 said...

You made two wonderful loaves. I enjoyed reading your post and will be following your blog.
Great to be baking along with you,

Kay said...

Wow.. I'm impressed! I can't even get it right using the bread machine sometimes! : )

Michelle said...

Great loaves! You had quite the situation there, but at least your husband wasn't watching porn while you slaved away in the kitchen ;-) I loved your recap of the process, great format!

Kim said...

Well done! The bread looks fabulous. It will be fun to watch your progress through the book :-)

I got a kick out of the "Bourne" conversation. Our house has really thick walls and we have such a hard time hearing one another if we're in different rooms. Cannot tell you the number of times we've had miscommunication problems. I said it's practice for when we're really old and hard of hearing :-)

Sallye said...

If you need a bread tester, I can give you my home address...

Sadly I did not get this gene, my sister did. I do not know if she has ever tackled bread, but she is an excellent cook. She and her husband both.

I could almost smell the bread through the blog.

The tweets were a wonderful "side dish" that complimented the bread perfectly.