SO... yesterday, I made the first recipe for ANADAMA BREAD. Actually, when I say yesterday, I mean I started the day before yesterday in preparation for baking. You use a "starter" in this recipe. The book has a nearly 100 page tutorial on basic bread baking concepts before you even see a recipe (he calls a formula). While most recipes will use a commercial yeast, his goal is to reduce the amount that you use. A starter is a way to "grow" a living yeast culture and allow the breakdown of starches to improve the flavor of the bread.
I started with 6 ounces of Course ground CORN MEAL, mixed with 8 ounces of room temperature WATER. I am living in a "stocked" kitchen. But there are no mixing bowls. I do have a resident manager that is very generous to let me borrow stuff. But today, I used a sauce pan to mix the starter. It had a lid, so I followed the instructions to cover with saran wrap (the lid), and let it sit overnight at room temperature.
The next morning (mid day actually), I mixed 2 cups of unbleached FLOUR, only 2 teaspoons of INSTANT YEAST, The Corn meal and water mixture (the SOAKER) and one cup WATER. I miss my Kitchenaid, but I made due and stirred, stirred stirred til well mixed. I covered the bowl with a towel and allowed it to ferment for one hour, till the sponge begins to bubble (a sign the yeast is working by creating gases). If you double click on the image to the left, the magic of the Internet will make it bigger and you can see the bubbles.
At that time, add 2 and 1/2 cups more FLOUR, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons SALT and 6 tablespoons of MOLASSES and 2 tablespoons of BUTTER. And, here is where I really miss the Kitchenaid, as it would be easy to let the hook do the mixing and kneading. But, by hand it was to be.
Stir until the ingredients form a ball, add water if needed to make a soft, slightly sticky mass.
Sprinkle flower on a work surface and start kneading by hand. keep adding flour as needed to make a tacky but not sticky dough the dough should be supple and pliable, but definitely NOT sticky. It will take at least 10 minutes of kneading (more for me, and nearly an additional cup of flour).
But, it can be done.
And here's the proof!
Lightly oil a bowl and move the dough to it. Roll the dough to coat and cover the bowl and allow to rise for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size...
Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into two equal portions. Form the dough into loafs and place into prepared, oiled and floured bread pans. Coat the tops with a small amount of additional oil, and loosely cover the tops with a towel.
Allow the dough to rise for 60 to 90 additional minutes, until the dough crests above the tops of the pans.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with the oven rack in the middle.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the center of the bread registers at 185 degrees (nice to be a griller, with an instant read remote prob attached thermometer).
When the loafs reach temperature, remove from oven, and immediately remove from pans and allow to cool.
And here is where I went off book a little...
I brushed a very thin layer of molasses on the top of the bread.
I ground up some walnuts in a mini chopper to just slightly bigger than dust...
But not much.
The book says to spray the top of the loafs prior to baking with water and sprinkle more corn meal on the top.
I thought (yes, this is my own concoction... sorry to the purists, but I figure I lost purists long ago), the extra sweetness on the top crust from the extra thin layer of uncooked molasses, combined with the extra nutty taste of the walnut dusting would make an extra treat...
I did add just a small dusting of corn meal as well.
We enjoyed a slice for breakfast with butter. This is a very dense bread. The corn meal makes the bread grainy, like a multi grain loaf of bread. The sweetness of the molasses shines through in every bite... But it especially shines through on the top with the extra raw molasses and walnut dust.
Bottom line... The bread has a full earthy rich taste. I liked it a lot, but... The bread is a little pricey to make... Corn meal on the island is expensive, so unless I were making polenta and had some left, unlikely that I would make this again. The molasses I seem to use quite a bit, so I would have some of that on hand. Adding both of those "extra" flavorings to the bread, as well as the walnuts made the 2 loafs at least $10. Still, better and cheaper on the island than to buy two loafs of "wonder" bread type loafs, and much cheaper than buying a specialty loaf from an island baker.
1 formula down, and 200 pages of recipes in the book to follow!