It seems a Massachusetts man was angry because his wife left him. What's more, she left him with just a pot of mush and a bit of molasses to eat. Enraged, the scorned husband threw the cornmeal and molasses together with some flour and yeast, sputtering, "Anna, damn 'er!"
Thus, Anadama bread was born.
That's one for the Hallmark Hall of Fame, isn't it? Well, it'll warm your tummy if not the cockles of your heart.
Anyway, Anadama is the first recipe in Reinhart's outstanding bread book. And as of this writing, nearly 80 home bakers around the world are embarking on "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" Challenge, started just a couple of days ago by the lovely Nicole of Pinch My Salt. We'll be baking every recipe in the book and sharing our thoughts and creations via Twitter and on our blogs.
I'm quite pleased with this sweet, nutty and tender Anadama. And I'm excited to school myself through Reinhart's other recipes. We'll be doing bagels, Kaiser rolls, foccacia, lavash, sourdough, rye and pretty much everything in between.
If you're a baker, feel free to join in!
I won't be sharing every recipe -- that wouldn't be fair-use now, would it? But I'll reprint a few here and there, including this yummy Anadama to kick things off.
As for school, we're keeping on our toes getting ready for Thursday's big-wig dinner. Today, we re-made the flourless Kamasutra Cakes (fingers crossed), put together batter for some Indian-spiced tuiles to adorn the cakes and made dozens and dozens of naan (Indian flatbread). I'm looking forward to Thursday, the first time ever that I'll be serving things I made to actual, paying customers. Cool, huh?
And you know what else is cool? My shiny new Kitchenaid 600 Professional Series Mixer in super-shiny nickel pearl arrived just a couple of hours ago. I think I'm in love.
Any suggestions as to how I should christen it?
From "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart
Makes two 1 1/2-pound loaves or three 1-pound loaves
1 cup (6 ounces) cornmeal (preferably coarse grind, also packaged as polenta)
1 cup (8 ounces) water, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) unbleached bread flour
2 teaspoons (.22 ounce) instant yeast
1 cup (8 ounces) water, lukewarm
1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 ounce) salt
6 tablespoons (4 ounces) molasses
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) shortening or unsalted butter, at room temperature
Cornmeal for dusting (optional)
The day before making the bread, make the soaker by mixing the cornmeal and water in a small bowl. Cover with plastic and let sit overnight at room temperature.
The next day, to make the dough, stir together 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, soaker and water in a mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic and ferment for 1 hour, or until the sponge begins to bubble.
Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of flour, the salt, molasses and shortening and stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients form a ball. Add water if necessary to make a soft, slightly sticky mass.
Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer dough to the counter and knead (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook), sprinkling in more flour as needed to make a tacky, but not sticky, dough. The dough should be firm but supple and pliable and definitely not sticky. It will take about 10 minutes of kneading to accomplish this (or 6 to 8 minutes in the mixer).
Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment the dough at room temperature for about 90 minutes, or until doubled.
Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 2 equal pieces of 24 ounces, or 3 pieces of 16 ounces. Shape the dough into loaves and put in lightly oiled bread pans. (Larger loaves could go in 9- by 5-inch pans and smaller loaves should go in 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch pans.) Mist the tops with spray oil and cover with wrap.
Proof at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the loaves crest fully above the tops of the pans. (If you want to hold back any of the loaves, place them in the refrigerator without proofing, where they will hold for up to 2 days. Remove them from the refrigerator about 4 hours before baking and proof at room temperature, or until ready.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with the oven rack in the middle shelf. Place the pans on a sheet pan and remove the plastic wrap. Mist the tops with a spray of water and dust with cornmeal.
Place the sheet plan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown, including along the sides and bottom, and register at least 185 degrees to 190 degrees in the center. They should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.
When the loaves are done, remove them immediately from the pans and cool on a wire rack at least one hour before slicing.