Golden, fluffy and sweetened with milk.
On a rainy day, what better thing to do than stay in and bake bread?
I wanted a new bread, something I haven’t done before. So I turned to my cookbooks – too many cookbooks, some of which are dedicated to bread, and to bread alone. Lugging about five into the living room, I spread them out on the coffee table. I spent about 10 minutes leafing through them, rejecting all the recipes for one reason or another. You know how that is, when your fancy can’t seem to light on one thing. Sighing, I put the books away again.
But I did want to bake. I imagined the Little One coming home from school cold and wet and a little grouchy, then brightening up as she smelled warm, fresh bread. Domestic magic! Love, security, and fresh bread! (I have these fantasies.)
Which bread, which bread? Then the white cover of The Joy of Cooking twinkled out at me from the shelf. These days, I tend to consult other cookbooks before "The Reliable Old Joy." But out of sentiment, I pulled it out and turned to the Yeast and Quick Breads and Coffee Cakes section.
Anadama bread: Bread made golden with a small proportion of corn meal, slightly sweetened with milk. Easy to make. It caught my imagination. Why hadn’t I made it before?
So I baked up a big loaf of moist, golden Anadama bread, with a little variation.
- 1- 1/4 cup hot milk
- 1 cube of fresh yeast
- 1/2 cup yellow corn meal
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2-1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
Scald the milk. Put 1 cup of the hot milk in a bowl, and to it add the corn meal, sugar, salt, and olive oil. Stir.
Dissolve the yeast in the remaining 1/4 cup hot milk. Combine the yeasty milk with the corn-meal/milk mixture.
Stir in 3 cups of the flour. Mix to make a loose dough. Add more flour by tablespoons, just enough to make a dough you can knead for 10 minutes, or stretch and fold 8 times.
Don’t make a stiff dough – flour or oil your hands to keep the dough from sticking, to keep added flour to a reasonable minimum. This is good policy for a light, tender crumb any time you bake bread.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it’s double in size and light – about an hour.
Knead briefly, and if you like to stretch and fold, do so again, three or four times. Place in a greased pan or, for a free-form loaf, shape and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Allow dough to rise again till doubled. This will take less time – about half an hour. The top of the stove is a good place to leave it, while the oven’s preheating.
Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C). Bake for 30 minutes, then check for doneness. If the top is crusty but the bottom still soft, flip it gently over and allow to bake another 10 minutes upside down. Check again.
Anadama bread is a good breakfast bread, being enriched with milk. It also makes good toast (wonderful hot and spread with peanut butter), and is delicious as French toast.
I hardly ever knead bread dough anymore; just a little in the bowl to integrate the flour. Then I stretch and fold – less tedious, better for my back, and results in a lovely crumb each time.
My favorite method for checking doneness of bread is the old-fashioned poke with a toothpick, as with cakes. If the toothpick comes out free of crumbs, the bread is done.
I baked this on my seasoned clay flowerpot saucer, gently sliding it off parchment paper onto the saucer, which had been liberally sprinkled with corn meal just before baking the bread to prevent it from sticking.
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking, 1973 edition
Related Topics: Baking