A comedy of errors. Until this week, I’d never had a good excuse to use that phrase. Then along comes a spanking new baking club called the BBA Challenge and a bunch of happy bakers all ready to take on whatever Mark Reinhart can throw at them. Being both an avid baker and a culinary masochist, I jumped in with both taped up feet to get down and dirty with the dough. Ok, not so much on the dirty part because that would be kinda icky unless we mean the good kind of dirty which… which should be saved for another sort of blog that my mother doesn’t read. Not that I have one of those (dirty blogs that is, I do have a mother), but if I did that’s where dirty baking adventures would go. Oh look, now I can use the phrase “but I digress” too!
It would be he right thing to do to open this story by saying Anadama Bread is rather on the easy side, so as not to scare off any potential attempts on anybody’s part. It’s delicious and streamlined and very low on the blood sweat and tears scale, everything that went wrong was completely my fault. And really, my Grandmother’s for being so entertaining.
The first day I mixed up the corn meal and water for it’s overnight soak and tackled this hearty New England dough the next day, as per instructions. The corn meal seemed kinda on the gritty side, bt I’m no expert and into the bowl it went. The true love of my life (my Kitchen Aid stand mixer) went to work mixing and kneading, and I helped out by watching Family Guy on tv. That’s right, it’s my high caliber work ethic that really adds that special touch to my food. It didn’t pass the window pane test after ten minutes, but again we revist the whole I’m no expert and my experience is all cheerful batches of country white bread and I oiled the bowl and went back to house cleaning. Yeah. During which it overproofed like some swamp beast rising from the muck in half the time the recipe said to let it rise. Yikes! Punched it back down and put it in loaf pans, and it’s with no small amount of shame I confess it overproofed again when I decided running to the store would be ok. If y’all have ever seen me run into a store for a minute, you won’t be surprised when I didn’t get back for two hours.
Are you feeling sorry for this bread yet? Brace yourself for further abuse, because into the oven I put the towering “loaves” and set it for twenty minutes. The book said to turn the loaves after twenty minutes, and when the timer went off I turned off the beeper and put it back in for another twenty! Errrr… which would’ve been fine if I hadn’t… accidentally turned off the heat instead. Nobody was surprised when the bread gave up at this point, sobbing softly on the counter as I swore to try again the next day to clear it’s name.
If you count three days later as the next day, that’s what I did!
Everything went much smoother this time, I was responsible and careful and kept an eye on things. Instead of soaking the cornmeal over night, I cooked it and cooled it to soften it up. Ok, most everything went smooth if you don’t tell anybody that I dumped a half cup extra water in the dough because I was having too much fun talking to my Grandma on the phone and had to add bunches of flour to make up for it.
Oh yeah, and this. When he loaves were slid in the oven they were barely cresting the top of the loaf pan. There’s no explanation for this! Why? Why would they come out looking like this? They look like bread monsters! One has another loaf on top of it in a lopsided monstrous way, and the other I swear has teeth.
If you get a chance, try this bread. Try the whole book, but please give this one a chance even if molasses and corn meal and such don’t sound like what you’d like. The bread is fluffy and tasty and tender, with a substance to it that really stands up to large amounts of peanut butter or piled high turkey. Yours might even come out pretty, everybody else’s did!