Alright, my first recipe! I didn’t want to keep it too boring and simple, so no basic table bread for now, but I should probably also wait a little bit or so before tackling things with a bit more involvement like baguettes. And I recently made a version of brioche, so that style of bread is set off for at least another week. Luckily for me, the first recipe of the book found itself to be absolutely ideal for my needs. A mostly typical, simple fermentation loaf recipe, so an easier one to start with, but with a few little flavors and steps unique enough to make it interesting. Not to mention it has molasses, and I LOVE molasses.
Supposedly created by a Massachusetts man pissed off at his wife for leaving him, angrily muttering “Anna, damn ‘er!” while working some cornmeal and molassess, the only things she left behind, with flour and yeast. This, over time, turned into Anadama (apparently it’s the locals fault), a slightly darker table bread with just a hint of extra mealiness from the accompanying cornmeal. Normally, it’s made as a direct-dough (simple yeast starter to dough, rise and shape and proof and bake), but the book recipe soaks the cornmeal beforehand for particular effects (mentioned later).
Being my first recipe, I should note that, when possible, I always follow my initial measurement purely and exactly on weight as opposed to cup/spoon (only exception was the yeast, since that was so light). And though I’m leaving it out of the recipe, you should always keep Spray Oil (whether you have your own oil pump or use Pam) on hand for these recipes; apparently it’s used quite often in the final proof.
1 cup/6 oz Cornmeal, Coarse Grind
1 cup/8 oz Water, Room Temp
4½ cups/20.25 oz Unbleached Bread Flour
2 tsp/0.22 oz Instant/Active Dry Yeast
1 cup/8 oz Water, Lukewarm (90-100F)
1½ tsp.0.38 oz Salt
6 Tb/4 oz Molasses
2 Tb/1 oz Shortening
Cornmeal for Dusting (Optional)
- Mix Cornmeal and first cup Water in small bowl, cover with tight lid of plastic wrap, and let sit overnight at room temperature.
- When ready to start, stir 2 cups (about 9oz ish) Flour, the Yeast, Lukewarm Water, and your Soaker in bowl.
- Cover with towel or plastic, let ferment 1 hour, until it starts to bubble.
- Add remaining Flour, Salt, Molasses, and Shortening, stirring with hand or mixing on Low speed in mixer until it forms a Ball. Add any extra water or flour as needed for this, making a soft, slightly sticky form.
- Mix on Medium Speed with dough hook or knead on floured surface until it turns into a firm, supple and pliable dough. This should take 6-8 minutes in Mixer and 10 minutes by Hand. Add flour as necessary during process to make sure it’s tacky but not sticky.
- Transfer to Lightly Oiled bowl, briefly rolling/turning around to coat with the oil. Cover plastic and bulk ferment about 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Remove onto floured surface, dividing and weighing on scale to fit the desired loaf pan: 16oz for 8”½x4½“, 24oz for 9”x5”, or in my case about 28oz(maybe more) for a 10”x5”.
- Shape dough as desired. For standard Loaf Form, flatten and fold dough so it forms a 5”x6-8” rectangle.
- Starting from the short end, starting rolling dough up one bit at a time, pinching the crease into the flat dough so as to help stretch it taught. Seal the final seam close with thumbs or back of your hand, and rock loaf to even it out. By now it should have widened an inch or two; make sure the ends aren’t tapered.
- Transfer to your lightly oiled Loaf Pan, mist the top with Spray Oil and loosely cover pan with plastic.
- Proof 60-90 minutes, until doubled or, ideally, crested fully above the top of the pans (which I’m now realizing mine may not have had enough dough to do, my bad).
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Mist top of your loaf/ves with Water and dust with Cornmeal if desired (by the way, I DID end up making a separate free-formed loaf with extra for fun, the one I scored). Transfer, on a sheet pan, into oven and bake 20 minutes.
- Rotate pan, bake additional 20-30 minutes, until loaves are golden, registerat least 185-190F in the center, and make a hollow sound when thumped on bottom.
- Remove immediately from pans and “cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.”
- OR you could stop being a square and slice the bread immediately to actually ENJOY its awesomeness hot and toasty right out of the oven, with butter of all things. I mean come on… don’t be a monster.
What Have I Learned This Time?
That there is such a thing as Over Kneading, I mean what the hell, and it’s super easy to go over into it without noticing if you haven’t added enough flour (even though the recipe amounts are being followed EXACTLY, I mean come on!). Oh, also, apparently I also need to not be afraid to let loose with the flour if I have ANY doubts from now on. I would imagine it’s a better option to have to add water to a dough that is obviously a bit too firm than let the machine go an extra 10 minutes on the CHANCE it just needs more kneading, risking over-kneading again.
I’ve learned to actually pay some damn attention EVERY instruction; apparently I put the molasses in one step too early… and I graduated from culinary school. Aren’t I just applying my degree and studies wonderously? Thankfully I don’t think that actually set anything back, so I was lucky this time!
Which means I also learned that I can get away with shit! Which is a VERY dangerous thing for me… let’s hope I can beat it out of myself soon.
That there’s such a thing as a Soaker method/technique and why it’s used; to break more sugars free from complex carbohydrates such as cornmeal and help improve the flavor.
Finally, I learned that two big loaves of fresh bread actually don’t stay around as long as I thought they would… so I guess I don’t have to worry about making too much! Especially when we can cut it thick, toast it, and top it with butter to enjoy the uniquely crispy-crunchy texture with hints of cornmeal. Mmmmmm mmm good.
Interestingly, I could swear that something about this bread almost reminds me of this subtle aroma of onions… not that I mind. Eating it also reminds me of the flavor of those cheap, market pantry ‘wheat’ breads after toasting, which I basically lived off of for a time. Only, you know, much better… like the difference between Oscar Mayer Bologna and fine Mortadella. It is a shame the molasses flavor doesn’t come through as much as I crave, but I know it notably affected the palate… and it smelled so good and noticeable when working in the dough stages.
Does the Dough Like Me Yet?
Hell No, but I think it felt some pity for me later on and decided to finish up nicely.