Monday, January 11, 2010

Anadama Bread: Baking Through The Bread Baker's Apprentice

I love baking. I love bread. There is nothing quite like kneading together the perfect dough, caring for it during the fermentations, anticipating its flavour as the house fills with the smell of baking bread, then finally cutting into the finished loaf and enjoying a still warm slice of perfection. Perhaps it's because Vegan Mom and I just watched Julie and Julia, but I have decided to bake through Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (not even an original idea, as it turns out). I have made several breads from this book, and have made no secret of the fact that I totally love it, so I am going to make them all. I will veganize when necessary, but I have no plans to alter the recipes in any other way. I will do a quick post about each bread for anyone interested.

The first bread is Anadama Bread: a loaf made of cornmeal (polenta), flour, and molasses of New England origin. The bread takes 2 days to make, with the first 24 hours taken up soaking the polenta in water to help release the natural sugars during baking. Reinhart made a note that his recipe testers preferred a light molasses so the flavour did not overpower the final loaf. I just used the molasses I had on hand, the same stuff I use for gingerbread, and did not notice any adverse flavour. The end result was amazing--a soft and light loaf with a bit of texture from the polenta. I found 40 mins of baking to be just right. We enjoyed a slice soon after baking with a bit of margarine, and then I made some classic PB and J sandwiches for lunch the next day.

14 comments:

Vonlipi said...

While reading your post I could almost smell the bread baking...

Brittany Boersma said...

Look amazing! I'm a little intimidated by making bread, so i'm looking forward to your future bread posts!

Tiffany C. said...

Looks tasty! I agree, Reinhart's book really is a great breadmaking resource.

VivaciousVegan said...

I am scared to death to make homemade bread or even seitan. I know it is silly, but do you remember the I Love Lucy episode where she made homemade bread and it kept coming out of the oven door? That happened to me and I haven't baked any since. I desperately want to make homemade bread. Can you give me any pointers?

Brenda W. said...

Nathan!! You may finally get me to actually DO something with the two Peter Reinhart cookbooks that I have!! His method of bread baking is so different from how I usually do it (getting a loaf made in an afternoon).

Of course, I'm one who (besides cooking and baking) also loves to just READ cookbooks, so I have to admit that even tho I've had his 2 newest cookbooks for several months, I've not made anything from them yet. I'm having a hard time getting over the 1-2 day start to finish times. (12 hour nursing shifts may also have something to do with it!!)

But, this first post and its picture is absolutely mouthwatering!!

I can't WAIT for your ongoing posts as you bake through this cookbook!! Great idea!

Matt (My Veggie Kitchen) said...

I just bought the book last week and took a serious liking to that bread. Its good to know about the molasses. I didn't want to buy a fresh bottle just for one recipe. Thanks. I look forward to seeing more bread.

Vegan Dad said...

Vivacious Vegan,
The only advice I really have it to plunge right in! The more bread you make the better you will get at it. The first few loaves may be better used for doorsteps than food, but things will get better. You will get the feel for the perfect dough, where the best place is to left the dough rise, how long to bake. Practice really does make perfect.

http://vegandad.blogspot.com/2009/01/some-tips-on-making-great-bread.html

cage said...

Looks great. I keep on meaning to make this, as I love all of Mr. Reinhart's recipes so far! I started my soaker this evening.

The Squishy Vegan said...

That looks yummy! Every time I attempt bread I mess it up in one way or another, but I'll keep trying!

DJ said...

Out of everything I do in the kitchen, baking bread is the one thing I really enjoy - maybe because here you can really see the science in action more than any other area. The baking through Reinhart idea sounds like great fun. One question - do you knead by hand or are you a bread machine man?

Melissa said...

This is great! I love Reinhart's books - I have the Breadbaker's Apprentice, too, plus his Whole Grain Breads and American Pie. All fantastic books. I'm looking forward to your posts.

Vegan Dad said...

DJ,
I bring the dough together with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, and then finish it off by hand.

VivaciousVegan said...

Thanks Vegan Dad, I guess I will just bake away then, if things go badly maybe I can use the bread as bricks and make that greenhouse I have always wanted...LOL, Wish me luck!

Brenda W. said...

I made this bread over the weekend to take to a potluck at work. Folks REALLY, REALLY raved about the bread, and I must admit ... the flavor **IS** fabulous.

This is the first recipe I've made from Peter Reinhart's book, and after months of fretting over the "long, 2 day bread baking process" was sheepishly embarrassed to see how it's as easy as pie.

The first day is nothing more than throwing 2 ingredients together to soak .. did that at 9pm after getting in from work.

The next day the process was very easy, with several stages of letting the dough rest, and what it produced was WONDERFUL!!

I did find that the recipe only made two 8" BY 4" loaves (the recipe said three or two 9 by 5 loaves).

Great recipe!! Nathan, thanks for finally getting me into this wonderful bread book!