So legend (or folklore) has it, my latest attempt at yeast bread making came from a namesake of mine. As the story goes, a Gloucester fisherman/farmer/hunter/woodsman (I’ll stick with fisherman), had a wife who was a terrible cook. Everyday, he came home to cornmeal mush and molasses. Upon returning home one evening to yet another meal of cornmeal, he took matters into his own hands and mixed in some flour and yeast to make bread. The entire time muttering “Anna, Damn her!” Thankfully, despite having the same name, I am fully capable of making many delicious meals. Though I do often leave the cooking to my boyfriend!
I started my bread making with this particular loaf for a few reasons. First, it has a story and it involves a person I share a name with. I don’t know about you, but I always feel drawn to something that shares my name. Second, it was close to the front of my new bread book. I have had this particular book on my wishlist for over a year. I finally received it for Christmas. There are a multitude of bread baking books out there. To the point where you can choose a book on a specific type of bread. When I was researching the best bread book for me, I settled on The Bread Baker’s Apprentice for its detailed instructions in the recipes and the massive introduction to bread baking at the beginning.
The author, Peter Reinhart, is passionate about baking bread and it shows in his writing. This book wasn’t just a way for him to share a few recipes (nearly 100), he wanted the readers to learn how to make good bread. Through his writing you can see that he isn’t just a baker, he is also a teacher. If you want to learn how to make good yeast bread, I recommend this book. My only complaint about the book is that the recipes are in alphabetical order rather than by bread type. Though, I have a feeling as I grow more familiar with the book, this will stop bothering me.
Back to the recipe and the third reason I tried this bread first. It has molasses in it. We rather enjoy the flavor of molasses, yet we only use it around Christmas. I feel this needs to change. The recipe also uses corn meal, which I found very intriguing. Really, this was a recipe that demanded to be baked.
You begin by soaking the corn meal in water overnight. This is to soften the meal and help release its flavours. While I was researching the background story, I also discovered that some people bake the cornmeal, some boil it, and other just pour boiling water over it and soak until it reaches room temperature. Though I’m sure any method will work, I like the archaic feel of soaking something overnight in preparation of baking bread. I’m sure there is some sort of epiphany in there somewhere, but I’m sticking with it just feels right!
Also thanks to my research, I may have discovered why I think my loaves ended up being short instead of fluffy. According to Spoonful, using All-Purpose flour rather than bread flour will result in a denser bread due to the difference in gluten. I think I will pick up a bag of bread flour before my next bread baking adventure. I may have also rushed the last rise a little in my excitement that my bread was beginning to look like bread.
I’m sure I’ll have many more bread making adventures and helpful suggestions as the year progresses. Once again, I won’t be typing in the recipe for copyright reasons, but you can visit this link that share the same recipe I just made (hers looks better than mine!)
Anadama Story Resources:
A Taste of History
The Sour Dough