Friday, May 8, 2009

BBA Challenge: Anadama Bread

Several dozen enterprising bakers are working their way through Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice, and while I don't yet own the book, with the help of some of the BBA Challenge participants, I'll get my hands on some of the recipes and follow along as best I can. If you're interested in joining, hop on over to Pinch My Salt for more info and to contact Nicole to add your name to the growing list.

The first recipe on the list is called Anadama Bread. I got the recipe (and story behind it) courtesy of Heather over at Flour Girl, and after admiring her wonderful loaf, went off to make my own, ecstatic that I actually had all the ingredients on-hand. I was temporarily set back when I realized I didn't have all the bread flour I needed, but hey, I'm just following along, right? I can make substitutions if I need/want to, and as long as I learn something, I got something out of it. Bonus if the bread is tasty!

I'd soaked my cornmeal overnight, anticipating this gorgeous, high-rising loaf, and lo, it rose. And rose. For something weighted down with a cupful of whole cornmeal, it was a big sucker! Not to mention the 2 cups of King Aurthur White Whole Wheat I'd tossed in to make up for my lack of 4 1/2 cups of bread flour. I'd figured at nearly half whole wheat, it would at least slow the thing down. But in just under the times given by the recipe, my dough had crested my 9x5in bread pans, and I tossed them in the oven.

So you can imagine my surprise when, upon opening the oven after the first twenty minutes of bake time (to rotate the baking sheet the pans were on, as per instructions) I saw they had shrunk slightly. *blinkblink* O-kay. Well, they were still pretty high-rising for whole-grain loaves, so I figured, what the heck. Maybe that's just the nature of the dough. But sure enough, at the end of bake time, I pulled out what looked like two bricks. Well, crap.

Except, they weren't bricks. Two hours after I'd pulled them from the oven, I sliced into one to find the moistest bread I'd ever made -- that was actually cooked through, of course. I don't know what miracle happened, but those scrawny blocks of golden-brown pitifulness actually turned out to be really (I mean REALLY) good. Go figure!

Now, I don't like to judge a bread until it's been around for a few days, and I've had a chance to taste it at different points of maturity. But after only two days, I can tell you I much prefer this Anadama Bread fresh. Not that it isn't still chewwy, moist, and flavorful; it is! But I personally prefer the flavors to be defined; the molasses to have a sharp sweetness, the corn to be a prominent feature in my mouth, both taste and texture. Unlike a good rye bread, which smooths with age to the betterment of the bread, this one just becomes... okay. You may feel differently. In either case, I encourage you to go grab a copy of the book and try it out yourself.

Happy Baking!

No comments: