Wednesday, May 05, 2010

For The Love of Bread

When my husband and I married it was at the height of the bread machine craze. Scanner in hand at the local big box register for your wedding here store, visions of fresh bread danced in my head. My husband looked at me in all seriousness and said "Do you know what will happen if we register for a bread machine?" [insert my puzzled looking face here] "My grandmother will hear about it and she will write out a recipe and give you a loaf pan". It is funny the things I thought we needed when we though I had any clue on how to run a home. I am not implying that some 7 years later I am all knowing on the subject...but I do have clearer ideas on what I like and a machine that makes me bread would definitely be taking up space in the basement right about now. Certainly it would have been great for those early attempts at edible bread...but with each non-rising, under kneaded ball of gluten I inched one step closer to understanding some bread making basics. I do have g-ma's handwritten recipe and two loaf pans - both which are within easy reach in my kitchen.

I am probably tempting fate by saying this...but Bread, I think I have finally figured you out! At least the beginning steps of success. I am not running around crafting artisan breads or selling loafs here...but I have successfully served danish braid, challah, molasses breads, focaccia, quick breads, and bagels. And now I am ready to further test the waters...or at least my perseverance. 

In the car on the way to the grocery store I heard an interview with author William Alexander. I read his first book $64 Dollar Tomato, and really enjoyed it. Mostly because it seemed to ring so true in our own family garden. A tomato seed may cost next to nothing, but the money we invested in fencing and compost, and garden markers, and on and on and on surely adds up. You must garden for the love of it...not so much the "cost benefit". Although if you stick with it it tends to get cheaper in time. So.. Mr Alexander has written a new book. It is in the format of a one year challenge (I really am a sucker for these types of books). Over the course of the year he hoped to perfect one single bread recipe in a quest to the perfect loaf. He details it in his book 52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust.

So now I am standing in the bread aisle and I am thinking. I am inspired by the thought of 52 loaves book and by SouleMama's past bread love posts...and I think "yeah, I can do that". And I do (well I mean I started). So this is my plan I will try my best to wean myself away from my dependence on grocery store breads. I will try a wide variety of styles and types. I will make no rules about it. I wont ask people to join me (but feel free to if  you like). Lets see if I can keep it up for a year (or a while or a month or whatever). My freestyle bread making not quite a challenge - challenge.

I decided to come home and create a bread that would be good for sandwiches and the likes for the next week or so. I created two loaves of Anadama bread for an old recipe book from my grandmother. The recipe contains molasses and cornmeal. It has two rises and makes two loaves. I used a blend of bread flour, white flour, and whole wheat flour. It smells delicious while baking and tastes great too. Photo to follow...

UPDATE: 5.11.10

Here is a photo of the Anadama bread that I made. The recipe completed two loaves. We ate the first one fresh..stored on the counter in a tea towel. We are on the second loaf now which was stored in a bag int he fridge.

This recipe from All Recipes - seems close to the one I used. For the three cups of flour I split the cups as follows 1 Cup each of bread flour, white flour, whole wheat flour. The mixture worked just fine.

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