|Anna, damn her !!|
Yeah, that's right....I have a bread machine. And I like it :)
Now, don't get me wrong....I love making bread by hand. There's something inherently satisfying about the whole kneading and punching down process...excellent way to work out your aggressions. And I also love the dough hook option on my Kitchen Aid stand mixer...the hook is especially good for sticky doughs, as it takes a lot less time to extract than your fingers. I'm not ashamed to admit, though, that I've gotten a lot of use out of my breadmaker in the 15+ years I've owned it. I don't think it's a coincidence that many of the soups I like to make take about 2 1/2 hours...which just so happens to be the amount of time it takes for my Regal to turn out a loaf of yummy bread. And though I would dearly love to spend every minute of my day in the kitchen, the sad truth is that sometimes the rest of life (laundry, family, super-awesome football teams) get in the way.
If you use the same quality ingredients that you do for "by hand" bread - and you keep an eye on the dough for the first 20 minutes to make sure it looks right - bread from a machine will taste just as good as bread from your oven. And you won't have to worry about finding a warm spot for the bread to rise or anything - the machine takes care of that (in fact, I use the "dough" setting all the time for making dough for pizza, rolls etc). Just follow your machine's guidelines, adding ingredients in the recommended order (mine is liquid, then butter, then flour, then yeast and salt) and you'll be all set.
Today I decided to tackle Anadama Bread, as a compliment to my turkey soup . I've always wanted to try making Anadama Bread, as I love the various stories behind it - none of which are probably true, but that doesn't make them bad :). The most often heard version is that the bread was named by a husband cursing his wife for serving him nothing but cornmeal and molasses porridge, which he decided one day to add yeast and flour to, then bake - cursing "Anna, damn her !" the whole time. A less-heard version has it that Anna was such a skilled baker that her husband says "Anna, damn her" while happily eating her delicious bread. Regardless of where the name comes from, Anadama Bread has been a New England specialty since the 1800's, best known on the North Shore (Massachusetts, where your intrepid blogger is based), and it is known for a reason - it is absolutely delicious. Recipes vary, but all of them contain flour (always white, sometimes whole wheat and/or rye), cornmeal, and molasses.
When I set out to make this today, I came up with a recipe using a method that's worked pretty well for me in the past...research a few recipes, take the parts I like from each, then add my own twist. Often times, doing it this way requires a bit of tweaking...but this one was a winner from the start. Sweet, but not overly so...sturdy but tender texture, lovely crust, beautiful golden brown color all the way through...in short, a win :).
1 1/4 c water
1/3 c molasses
2 T butter
1/3 c yellow cornmeal
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
2 1/4 t yeast
1 t salt
1 t salt
Pinch of nutmeg
Add ingredients in order specified by your bread machine manufacturer, and use the setting for a larger loaf (as opposed to smaller). Dough tends to be heavy and sticky, so make sure it's kneading when it's supposed to...