I’d planned on joining Pinch My Salt’s BBA-Challenge. Unfortunatley I missed the cut-off date to join, but I’ve decided to play along at home anyway. The first bread in the book is “Anadama Bread.” Compared to many of the breads I’ve made using Reinhart’s books, this bread was quick and simple to make! The warm temperatures here in Texas made for quick rising times, leaning more to the 60 minute side than the 90. For someone used to making sourdoughs that have 4 hour rise and 2-3 hour proofing times, this bread went by in a blur – but not so quickly that I wasn’t able to take step-by-step photos.
Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s “Bread Baker’s Apprentice” – pg 108
6oz (1C) Coarse grind cornmeal
8oz (1C) Room temperature water
15.75oz (3.5C) Unbleached Bread Flour
4.5oz (1C) White Whole Wheat Flour
.22oz (2t) Instant Yeast
8oz (1C) Room temperature water
.38oz (1.5t) Salt
3oz (4.5T) Molasses
1oz (1.5T) Agave nectar
1oz (2T) Room temperature butter
Cornmeal for dusting (optional)
As a note, the original recipe calls for all white flour, no whole wheat. It also calls for 4oz/6T of molasses, but I was running short. I’ve found that agave nectar can almost always be substituted for sweetness and caramelization of crust, but it won’t have quite the same rich flavor.
On the evening before you want to make your Anadama Bread mix the cornmeal and 1 cup of water in a small bowl. This will make a sort of cornmeal porridge. Leave this, lightly covered with plastic wrap, on your counter overnight.
On the morning of the next day add 4.5oz (1C) of wheat flour and 4.5oz (1C) of white flour, or 9oz (2C) of white flour if not using wheat, the yeast, water, and the cornbread soaker in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment to combine the ingredients. You can also mix in a bowl with a bowl whisk or wooden spoon.
When mixed the ingredients will be a wet batter. Set this aside and allow it to rest at room temperature, lightly covered, for 1 hour.
When it is ready the starter will have smoothed out and become foamy and bubbly on top.
Once starter is ready, add the remaining flour, salt, molasses, agave nectar (if using), and butter.
Mix until it all the ingredients are just incorporated and have started to pull together into a ball.
Switch out your paddle attachment to the dough hook. Knead dough for 6-8 minutes on “2″ (For KitchenAids). The dough will work itself to a tacky dough. It will not be “silky” like white dough due to the cornmeal. If kneading by hand this will take closer to 10 minutes to reach the proper gluten formation.
Place your dough into a lightly oiled bowl or bucket and turn to coat. I prefer to use a food-grade bucket. I mark the level of dough with a piece of tape and a marker so I can get a more accurate idea of when it has doubled in volume. Doubling will take between 60-90 minutes and depends upon the ambient temperature of your house, the temperature of your dough, and how active your yeast is. Listen to your dough and work on its schedule, not the clock’s!
Turn the dough out of the bucket and onto a floured surface. I prefer to use a pastry cloth. Use a dough cutter to divide the dough into two equal pieces.
Shape the dough into loaves and place in lightly oiled 9×5″ loaf pans. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and the cover the pans with a clean linen kitchen towel. Do not use terry cloth, it will stick! I shape my loaves using almost the same technique that Mark at the Back Home Bakery demonstrates for baguets and batards in this video.
Proof the dough for 60-90 minutes, checking at about the 45 minute mark. When your dough is close to cresting the top of the pan, preheat your oven to 350F. Spritz the tops of the loaves and dust with cornmeal. Place the loave pans on a baking sheet to give the bottoms added protection and bake for 20 minutes. At the 20 minute mark rotate your pan 180 degrees and bake for another 20-30 minutes.
Loaves are done when they reach an internal temperature of 185-190F. I prefer to bake my bread to at least 200F to insure a done center. To test for doneness, turn one loaf out of its pan and insert a probe thermometer into the bottom.
When done, remove your loaves from the pan and set them on a cooling rack for at least 1 hour before cutting. Premature cutting can result in a loss of texture to your crumb.
I couldn’t be happier with the way this bread turned out. The cornmeal on top offers a sharp difference in taste from the mildly sweet crumb, which has a texture somewhere between white bread and buttermilk cornbread. The crust is soft like a good sandwich bread, which is another big change from my sourdough boules. Cornmeal, wheat flour and molasses combine to give this bread a warm golden hue throughout.