Why don’t I bake bread more often? There’s something very therapeutic about it-the kneading, waiting for the slow rise, and then the aroma of freshly baked bread filling the entire house. Years ago I tried to bake bread once a week, mostly in the colder months. When you live in a cold climate in a old, drafty house, you frequently are looking for reasons to turn the oven on. I suppose that I gave up the tradition of weekly baking when I moved to southern California and winters just weren’t what I had been used to. Back then I was still wearing shorts in December when everyone else here had on turtlenecks and boots!
Yesterday the New York Times featured an article on breads that you can make to go with your Thanksgiving dinner. I’m a believer that you don’t really need to serve bread at that holiday feast. With the quantity of dishes served and all the bread that’s in the stuffing, I just don’t see the point. The article did however get me thinking about the ritual of baking bread and when I woke up early this morning, I decided to start on the anadama bread. So while I was sipping my cappuccino I was stirring bubbling cornmeal porridge that goes in to the dough.
1/2 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup molasses
4 tablespoons butter softened, more for greasing bowl
1 package (1/4 oz.) dry yeast
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Oil for greasing
In a bowl stir together the cornmeal and 1 cup water. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring another cup of water to a boil. Add cornmeal mixture and cook, stirring constantly until mixture is very thick, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in molasses and 2 tablespoons butter. Transfer to bowl of electric mixer and cool to tepid.
In small bowl stir together yeast and 1/2 cup water until yeast is dissolved. Add to cornmeal mixture and mix on low with dough hook attachment for several seconds. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing for several seconds after each addition. Sprinkle in salt and nutmeg and continue mixing until dough comes away from the bowl, about 7 minutes.
Lightly butter a bowl. Form dough into a ball and place in bowl. Oil a piece of plastic wrap and loosely cover dough. Allow dough to rise for 1-1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Lightly grease 2-9″x4″ loaf pans. Press dough down and divide into two equal pieces. Shape each piece loosely into a loaf and place each in a pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until loaves have doubled.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until bread is dark golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
Allow bread to cool in pans for 5 minutes, then turn out to cooling rack. Brush all over with remaining softened butter. Serve warm if possible.
This was delicious right out of the oven and I think it will be wonderful toasted too. There’s something about it that makes me think it would make a great sandwich of leftover turkey and cranberry sauce!