Well, I have completed the first BBA challenge bread, and I am pretty proud of myself, considering the circumstances. I pushed back baking until today because I had a crazy day on Friday and didn’t make it to the store for polenta. I somehow managed to not make it to the store again on Saturday. At that point, I ended up just taking the fine-ground Quaker cornmeal I already had and soaking that instead of polenta on Saturday night.
Then I woke up on Sunday and I felt like I was getting sick. Still, I thought, I WILL bake! I MUST bake!
I took out my soaker and added flour, yeast, and water to make it a sponge.
My sponge started bubbling right away.
After I made the sponge, I realized that I would need more bread flour to finish the recipe. Normally, I would not go out, because I hadn’t even taken a shower yet and I felt like crap. So here is what I did. I dressed myself up in yoga clothes, and I figured that anyone wondering why I looked so crappy would think that I had just come from yoga class, and not that I was too lazy to take a shower before going to the store.
So with my fraudulent yoga disguise, I picked up another package of KAF bread flour, just in time to add it to the sponge, which had gotten much more bubbly.
Peter Reinhart stresses the importance of mise en place in the book, and I am a fan of it myself, especially since I have a dishwasher to do all of the dirty dishes that result. So far I hadn’t been doing it, but here I redeemed myself. I weighed out the flour, molasses, salt, and butter into separate bowls. I sprayed the molasses cup with spray oil so it would come out easier.
There has been some discussion among our group about the type of molasses to use. I used this kind because it’s what I had:
It is a dark molasses, not the golden kind that is preferred, but not as dark as blackstrap? I am no molasses expert, but that’s my guess. Adding the molasses to the flour was fun, because it sank and splattered and reminded me of a Jackson Pollack painting.
I started using the dough whisk to incorporate all the dough ingredients, but the dough was thick and my arm got tired quickly. Doesn’t this look like the best ice cream flavor ever?
I kept going.
Then I popped it on my Kitchen Aid for some kneading. The dough needed a lot more flour; it was very sticky.
I added what seemed like a lot of extra flour, but couldn’t get the dough any less sticky and couldn’t get it to pass the windowpane test.
So – dum dum DUM – I took it out of the Kitchen Aid and started kneading it by hand.
It seemed like I had to add a lot more flour and I had to knead it by hand for a while. I wasn’t particularly afraid of overkneading, since Reinhart says it is almost impossible to overknead by hand. Finally I got the dough to a good consistency and I started seeing some windowpane action. There were still breaks in the dough when I tried to stretch it along with the translucent areas, but since it had taken so long, by this time I was sick of dough and bread and baking, and wanted to take a nap. So I put it in a bucket to rise.
Now I faced another dilemma. I have only two bread pans – one 9 x 5 and one 8.5 x 4.5. I was going to buy another 9 x 5 since I had made a full recipe, but the grocery store I went to earlier didn’t have one, and I was less than willing to go out and go somewhere else. I laid down on the couch to think it over, and fell asleep.
I got up an hour later, and this is what I saw:
Thankfully I had set my timer, because I think there has definitely been doubling here. But now I didn’t have time to go out even if I wanted to.
What I decided to do was use both pans – 24 oz. of dough in the 9 x 5, 16 oz. of dough in the 8.5 x 4.5.
I considered using the rest of the dough to make a couple of rolls or something, but then I wondered about the timing. So I just threw it away. And went to lie down again.
Another hour later, I went to check on them.
The bigger loaf had risen a lot more than the smaller loaf, so I waited another ten minutes to give the little one a chance to catch up. Then I dusted them with cornmeal and popped them in the oven. I had already preheated it, with an old Pyrex pie plate filled with water in there too for some steam.
I turned the sheet pan around halfway through, and then took them out after forty total minutes. I checked them both with the thermometer, and they were past the “done zone,” so I put them out to cool.
I had no idea that anadama bread even existed before I decided to join the Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge. So I have nothing to compare this to. It definitely had a strong taste of molasses at first, but the bread was not as sweet as I expected it to be. There wasn’t a lot of “crunch” as described by the other participants, probably since I used the fine ground cornmeal rather than the coarse ground. I do think it would make a nice peanut butter sandwich, as several people have mentioned. I thought about using it as a side for baked beans, too, which seemed like it might be traditional, since it is a New England bread. I think I would give it 3.5 stars.