Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge - Anadama Bread

2 weeks ago, two people huddled and whispered sweet nothings in each other's ears. They argued, they cajoled each other and finally were convinced by the other to do it. They did something they've been wanting to do for a long time, but worried about whether the deed will be done in vain. The deed we are referring to is the buying of our first bread book The two people were A and I, who huddled at Borders Book Store at the Culinary section. He argued that we were novice bakers and that bread was still going to be challenging, I cajoled saying that nothing could teach us how to bake bread if not constant trial with the help of a celebrated book. The book was 'The Bread Baker's Apprentice' by Peter Reinhart.

2 days later, they excitedly click on Pinch My Salt, a popular blog and a huge favourite of N's repertoire of blogs only to find that Nicole had very benevolently thought of people like us and invited her readers/fellow bloggers/bakers for a challenge like never before. Bake every single bread in the book. Yes, the same book that we'd argued over. N said a million times 'I told you so,' while A went on to fill up the form, join the Google Group and read up the book like it was the Bible. Well, it is indeed a novice baker's Bible!

Yes, we are among the 200 mad people who've signed up for this challenge and exchange eager tweets/about a 100 emails a day :D and tons of inquisitive questions with amazingly researched, knowledgeable answers given in minutes. People like us have been inactive in the group in terms of any knowledge shared (coz we have none with regards to bread baking) but have gone through each and every email with wonder. Thanks to each and every one of you for making this bread baking process such a fun activity and its unbelievable how much we've learned in these last few weeks!

This is the original recipe by Peter Reinhart. We halved the recipe to make just one loaf since we are going to try baking a bread every week from this book. That makes it 4 loaves for a month, and we certainly didn't want to bake too much of the same thing!

In A's handwriting:

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We also made some changes with the ingredients and were quite happy with what the results! We cannot post the full recipe here thanks to copyright issues, however, the link given above is from Google Books and does have the recipe. We've given the list of ingredients (with our measurements for one loaf) here with the changes we made given in italics.

Ingredients

Soaker:

1/2 cup cornmeal, preferably coarse grind (called polenta, sometimes or corn grits) -
1/2 cup water at room temperature

The soaker has to be prepared the previous day. The day before you want to bake the bread, prepare the soaker by mixing the cornmeal with the water and cover with a plastic wrap. This needs to sit overnight.

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The bread dough:

2.25 cups Unbleached Bread flour -

We used bleached AP flour thanks to a stupid mistake we made by picking up the wrong bag at Costco! However, we also had to add a 1/4 cup of flour more than this because the dough was still sticky at the end of kneading.

1 1/4 tsp Instant yeast

We used Active Dry Yeast instead of Instant yeast because that is what we had. Reinhart mentions in his book that when one uses Active Dry Yeast instead of Instant yeast, we may need to use 25% more than the prescribed amount of instant yeast. We did just that and it worked out great.

1/2 cup Water, lukewarm (around 90-100F)
3/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp molasses

We didn't have any molasses and our one month shopping rule doesn't let us go grocery shopping for anything else apart from milk, eggs and fruits through the month. So, we added brown sugar instead of molasses, and yes, molasses is on the next month's list :D just in case!

1 tbsp shortening or unsalted butter at room temperature

We used butter and not shortening.

Cornmeal for dusting

Optional, according to Peter Reinhart, a MUST according to us!

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We made a mistake by taking out the bread a little early and not letting it cool thanks to uber excitement! Also, the dough seemed to be slightly too much for a loaf. We still stuffed it though :P However, we loved what we had! The bread had a sweet tinge to it, and was crunchy thanks to the cornmeal and absolutely lovely even on the next day. We made French Toast with the bread the next day and the texture was the same. This sure is a keeper of a recipe.

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On the flip side, like I mentioned earlier, we had to use bleached AP flour thanks to our stupidity at Costco. We picked the wrong bag of flour :| This was the first time we were picking up flour from Costco and didn't notice that it was bleached! Anyway, it didn't seem to affect the bread baking process as much. We'd love to try this again with whole grains and make this a regular at home.

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This experience has been more than a learning experience. Some emails have left us rolling on the floor with laughter. Some avid bakers have named their Starters and its hilarious to listen to them talk about their 'babies' or the starter's kids :)

And check our fellow mad bread bakers at Nicole's blog here! Do visit this page also to see the bread bakers' map on Google Maps. People from all over the world, passionate about bread baking are doing this and its a marvelous effort! Go ahead and leave Nicole a comment about how much you'd have loved to be a part of this ;) It will make her day for sure!

P.S. - Peter Reinhart himself responded to Nicole's challenge and has promised to keep an eye out for us, mad bakers! Yay!

39 comments:

Elle said...

If I were going to be home I would be one of the mad bakers and hope to join later. Your bread looks wonderful!

Varsha Vipins said...

That bread looks awesome..over sized cutie pie..:D..yumm

Pooja said...

wow..Looking lovely..starring at the way it raised up..

aquadaze said...

love the way the bread has risen :)
Have finally managed to start baking bread, it is so addictive!

Bharti said...

That came out lovely! The group baking bread sounds like a lot of fun.

Cham said...

Wow look how it raised :) Great texture bread!

Donna-FFW said...

I think it looks absolutely perfect. I bet it was worth every second of the hard work you put into it. Id love some toasted with jam..MMMMM

TBC said...

Good lord! 30 & 5/8th of an ounce? My head is spinning.:D

That loaf has risen so well! :D
Baking (bread) is something I have not yet tried my hand at.

Cakelaw said...

Yummo - this looks delicious. Now that I have seen this group, I have ordered this book from Amazon myself, so in a month or so when my copy arrives (internationally it takes that long), I can hopefully join.

kusublakki said...

Wow...N, add this to something that I want to eat when I visit you :)
Also, lovely pics!

Shreya said...

That bread looks grt! Texture looks awesome, and how it has risen. Loved reading this post:-) Great start to the challenge. Best wishes to you both.

Veggie Food Journal said...

Kudoos to you guys. Great pictures. Fresh hot breads...your kitchen must be smelling heaven.

jayasree said...

Bread looks moist and airy.. have risen beatifully. Good job.

DEESHA said...

loved the texture .. I;d never venture out to bake this .. kudos to yu guys

Arch said...

lovely...its wonderful to bake bread...i've tried it about 3 times now and loved it...makes you feel so good :) its great that you guys are at it...great looking bread !

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, that loaf looks fantastic! What a beautiful bread! So soft inside!

Cheers,

Rosa

Uma said...

wow, what an amazing bread! so soft and yummy.

Parita said...

Wow the bread looks wonderful..look at the way its risen..tooo good :)

SJ said...

I sense a light box in the pictures!? Did you make one?
Good luck with the bread baking and the challenge!

susies1955 said...

Loved reading your write up. :o) Wonderful bread. :) It is great baking along with you.
Susie

Natashya said...

Looks perfect, guys! Congrats on such a fabulous first loaf.

Arundathi said...

Its so cool to be baking along with you two wolverines! :-) Lovely looking bread and I enjoyed reading your post.
So I think the reason it was too big for one loaf was because it was supposed to be put into two loaf pans or 3. Maybe that's the reason?
I forgot to add the cornmeal on top - now I wish I had!

Soma said...

What a pleasure reading this post! as always! kudos to you guys. the bread looks fantastic & the pictures are gorgeous! I'll follow your post & try my experiments at my convenience:-D

Sakshi said...

I doubt I can rise to such an expectation while baking my own bread.....awesome looking bread I must say...Good luck you mad nutty Bakers..will follow you guys for sure.

Laavanya said...

That is a lovely looking bread and am amazed by your enthusiasm.

indosungod said...

Going by the looks of that bread it no way looks like a novice attempt. Delightful reading about how went about making the bread.

lisamichele said...

I LOVE anadema bread, and yours looks fabulous! As for the Yanks..yay, a win, but we keep winning a few then losing more. With injuries and such, I don't think this team has what it takes to compete in the AL East, but we can only hope!

Vani said...

The bread looks perfect! Amazing your enthusiasm..

Ashwini said...

Looks awesome. Love the raised photo. Yummm

Indhu said...

a slice of that bread with blueberry spread... am in heaven :)
love how the bread has risen :)

AnuSriram said...

Lovely bread! Looks gr8! Nice try!

Nicole said...

Your bread is beautiful! So happy you decided to buy the book and even happier still that you found and joined the BBA Challenge! :-)

Raaga said...

I saw this at Arundathi's yesterday and am tempted to try... I have a box of ricotta at home :)

Raaga said...

sorry... saw all your posts together and commented on the wrong one... :)


this bread looks great too... I think I should join the group too.

And you were in Hyd? When? Maybe we knew each other!

Bong Mom said...

All the best ye brave souls. Who is going to eat all that bread, send me some, remember you need to do "No Grains" every 3 week :)

Mahimaa's kitchen said...

wow the bread looks so fresh and nice.

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

One day I shall buy the book & probably the wrong flour too, & bake through the book!! Wonderful bread...looks so good!!

A_and_N said...

Thanks all you guys! :)

@Deeba: Arundhati was talking about getting a flour close to bread flour in India. Do check with her?

The Caked Crusader said...

whaa stunning loaf and a gorgeous colour!