BBA Challenge: Anadama Bread

Bread number one is finally here. I avoided writing about it for awhile because even through the bread came out fine, baking it was a comedy of my poor timing, and perhaps inability to follow recipes.

First things first. What is the BBA Challenge? Well, funny you should ask, there is this rather well known books, with perhaps a cultish following called the Bread Bakers Apprentice, written by none other than Peter Rheinhart. It contains about 50 recipes, many with variations, and the challenge is to bake them all.

Which brings us to bread number one, Anadama. While all good things in food come with lore, Anadama bread originates from New England. Supposedly, the wife of a woodsmen (or fisherman depending who tells the story) was a notoriously awful cook, and made him eat cornmeal mush night and day. So one day when he returned from his daily activity, in a fury he mixed flour and molasses into the mushy cornmeal muttering “Anna damn her” to himself, and before he knew it out popped a quite delicious loaf of Anadama bread! While fact or fiction, I think it’s a great story, and a great bread.

Now I have to admit, I have made a number of breads from the BBA, but never Anadama as I generally dont find sandwich loaf bread all that intriguing. That being said, Anadama bread was delicious, and I would probably make it again.

To make the bread you must begin the night before, and set out a soaker. The soaker is just cormeal and water. I used course ground cornmeal, but polenta would do as well. The next day (note: not evening!) you should make your sponge, let that rise, make the dough, let that rise, shape the loafs, let that rise and then, just when you thought you could wait no more… you bake your bread!

In total there is about 5 hours of rising, which probably would have been less if it had been warmed day and I had been insulation. I made the mistake of not starting the bread until 3PM, which would have been fine if I hadn’t remembered halfway through baking that I had tickets to a soccer game that night and gasp.. wouldn’t be around to finish baking the bread! The bread normally need to bake for about 40 minutes, with a turn halfway through, so I pumped the oven a little hotter to begin with and at the halfway point i turned the breads, turned off the oven, and walked out tof the house. It was a huge risk, but thankfully, my bread stars were aligned and it came out just fine, although I suspect had it baked properly, the crust would have been much crustier as I prefer.

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