My friend Sara introduced me to the BBA Challenge at Pinch my Salt that has been going on for a while. All the bakers participating in this challenge attempt every single recipe in Peter Reinhart’s book “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread”. I’m kinda late, but I still want to participate because I think this gives me the chance to bake breads I otherwise wouldn’t try.
The first bread of the challenge is Anadama Bread. I’ve never heard of it before so I checked the meaning of the name on wikipedia (this was before I had the book which also gives an explanation for the name), and thought this was a pretty neat story.
Anyway, as I’m baking in Germany there are several obstacles to overcome. First of all, here we have numbers for the flour types that indicate the amount of ash (mineral content). Thus, when Peter Reinharts calls for all-purpose flour, bread flour or high-gluten flour it is not really clear to me what German flour type would be equivalent. Again, wikipedia was very helpful in coming close to a solution (only close because they don’t mention bread flour at all, but I guess I can figure that out with the given amount of ash and protein). Second, I have to convert all the measures because I don’t have a scale that measures ounces and I don’t like using cup measures with dry ingredients. Third, there are some ingredients that I can’t get here, so I think. Like, (cane) molasses. We have sugar beet molasses here, so I guess, this will have to work. Fourth, I can’t really figure out the difference between instant and active dry yeast. I even contacted the producer of the yeast I usually buy, and they keep telling me it’s an active dry yeast, but all sources about active dry yeast say that it has to be dissolved in liquid first, which is not necessary according to the directions on MY yeast’s package. Is it instant yeast then? Oh well, I’ll just assume I have instant yeast. Fifth, the recipe calls for coarse grind cornmeal (polenta). Our grocerie store has finely ground cornmeal and two different kinds of polenta: fine and coarse. Did Reinhart mean coarse cornmeal or coarse polenta? Hmm, I opted for the coarse polenta.
Ok, so this is what I did:
1) I made a soaker by mixing the cornmeal and water. I covered it with a plastic wrap and let it sit overnight.
2) The next day I mixed the soaker with some of the flour, yeast and water, covered it with a plastic wrap again and fermented it for about 1 hour.
3) Then I mixed in the remaining ingredients until everything formed a ball.
4) I put it to an oiled bowl to ferment for another 90 minutes or so.
5) Then I removed it from the bowl and shaped the dough into a loaf (I didn’t have to divide it into pieces because I had only made 1/3 of the recipe) that I put into an oiled pan. I covered it with a plastic wrap and let proof for 90 minutes.
6) I put the pan into the preheated oven (350°F), brushed the top with a little bit of water and “dusted” it with some polenta. Then I baked it for 50 minutes.
The bread had an interesting, sweet flavor. I had read it would be soft, but it wasn’t soft at all, but kind of tight. I think this is due to the flour I used (1050 type which is called first-clear flour at wikipedia – I used this one and not 550 type which would correspond to all-purpose or bread flour because the package said it was really good for baking breads). This definitely is a bread I will make again. I’ll use 550 type flour, though, to see if it makes a difference concerning the softness of the bread, and also I’ll use fine polenta because I thought the bread was kind of crunchy (which isn’t bad, but I want to check out how the bread turns out with fine polenta).
To sum it up, the first BBA bread was a success, and I’ll continue participating.