Tuesday, October 20, 2009
live yeast...oh what a difference it makes!
Bread attempt number 1 has come and gone. Although it was tasty when it first came out of the oven (what isn't ?), it just didn't survive well the following day. Was I discouraged? No way! It just made me even more determined to bake a really good loaf of bread. Not just a decent one, but a loaf that was tasty, moist in the middle and with a nice crust. I started googling bread recipes: especially ones that included molasses in them.
When I think of good bread I think of the brown molasses bread at Stone Faced Dolly's on Preston Street. Not only is it my favourite part of going there for brunch; but accompany it with some really good strawberry jam and you are good to go (I also personally enjoy to add some hot sauce to that combo, but that's just me...)
With that in mind I came upon a bread recipe that fit the bill...a New England classic, Anadama bread. Dark and moist, with a hint of cornmeal - this loaf turned out pretty awesome if I do say so myself.
Another reason I'm so pleased with myself is that I used LIVE YEAST!!! None of that powdered stuff... no sir, not for me! I will admit that I was nervous though; it always makes me laugh that I can get myself so worked up about a recipe... I mean, the worst that can happen is that I bake something inedible (which does happen - case in point, my first loaf of bread) and I get to try again... all that to say, you should give this recipe a try. Seriously. Try.
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. cornmeal
1 tbsp butter
1/2 c. molasses (next time I'm going to add 3/4 c. molasses)
1 ounce live yeast OR 1(.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water (110 degrees F)
all-purpose flour, divided in half cups - as much as you'll need
1 teaspoon salt
Mix 1/2 c. of water and the cornmeal in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook until the mixture thickens; about 5 minutes - at this point you should be stirring continuously so that the cornmeal doesn't stick to your pan.
Remove from heat and stir in the molasses and butter. Let cool to lukewarm.
Meanwhile, in your stand-mixer bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 c. of warm water - don't use HOT water since it will kill the yeast. Stir it well and then allow it to sit for 10 minutes; it'll get really creamy.
Combine the cooled cornmeal molasses mixture with the yeast mixture; stir until well blended.
Add about 2 c. of flour and and the salt. Grab your bread hook paddle and start to mix your dough. With the mixer running, continue to add flour, a half cup at a time until the dough starts to pull together (it'll form a nice ball: smooth and elastic - about 8 minutes of kneading in the machine).
Place the dough in a lightly oiled mixing bowl and turn it to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and put it in a warm place to rise; it should double in volume (about 1 hour).
*I take a 1/2 c. of water in a small bowl heat it in the microwave for 2 minutes; then move the bowl to the back of the microwave and place my covered dough into the microwave. It speeds up the rising period - and I find that the bread rises even more than if I leave it in my oven.
After you've waited that hour; take the dough out of the bowl, punch it to deflate it and turn it out on a lightly floured surface. Divide it in half. Shape it (or put it in a loaf pan), cover it again with the damp cloth and let it sit another 40 minutes.
Then glaze it with some milk or an egg wash. It'll add a nice crust to the top of the bread.
Preheat your oven to 400 F.
Bake the loafs @ 400 F for about 30 minutes - careful, the bottoms can burn easily... so keep watch. You know that it is ready if the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
You can now do like me... cut off a piece and enjoy immediately; or if you have patience, allow it to cool a bit before you take a nice big bite!