Since the first loaf in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, blogged recently, was such a success, I decided that I’d give the recipe another go and this time keep track of the process with step-by-step pics.
It again proved to be a rather simple, straight forward loaf with little in the way of “tricky bits”. It does span several hours but as with most breads, that time is simply letting the dough rest or proof and it’s not time you need to babysit it.
So if you’re up to a play-by-play with photographic documentation, let’s get started.
The first step which I have no pics of (I’m sure you can picture it quite well in your heads) was to soak the coarse cornmeal for 12 hours. So I got my little bowl, my warm water and cornmeal and went to town. Ok, I just poured them in the bowl and covered. Not exciting. Fast forward to the next morning…
The next stage is to create the preferment, although I think technically this doesn’t qualify as it has the cornmeal in it, Regardless, I tossed the cornmeal mush into the bowl with about half the flour, instant yeast and a little more water.
Gave a quick stir to get it all incorporated, then covered the bowl and popped it into the oven with just the light on – this seems to keep at about 85º, perfect for growing yeasties. Gave it about an hour to get good and bubbly.
You can see the foamy stuff around the edges here. I now added the remaining flour, salt and molasses. I dashed to the store earlier tto nab some light molasses but the only choice available was “fancy” molasses. Once I git it home I popped open the little carton and was glad to see it was definitely lighter than the “cooking” molasses I had used earlier. I still cut it back to about 2/3 of the required amount and made up the remainder in brown sugar.
A quick minute or two in the KA mixer and I have a good mixed lump of “shaggy” dough. (Why o why does Austin Powers always pop into my head when I see that word??) So now that it’s gathered, time to start kneading. But not with the mixer this time. Why? No reason, just felt like doing it by hand.
A sprinkle of flour on the counter, plop out the dough mass and we’re ready to go. It looked like it would be a sticky mess but surprisingly wasn’t.
Here it is after just a minute of kneading, pretty well together. All the flour you saw in the previous picture was all the flour it got. Cleaned up the counter nicely.
Here we are at about eight minutes of kneading. It passes the windowpane test at this point and feels smooth (aside from the cornmeal texture, of course). It’s ready to go for it’s first rise.
Grease up a tub, toss the dough in and spread it out.
Adjust the tape to show where we started, then back into the 85º oven for the next 60-90 minutes until it doubles.
60 – 90 minutes? Here it is at 60 and it’s already more than doubled! Good show! Nearly there. And I’ve hardly broken a sweat. Even during kneading, the dough is so soft, it’s hardly much work.
Cut our lump o’ dough in two, shape and pop into these great heavy (sorta) loaf pans (9″ X 5″). Cover and back into the warm oven one more time to rise well above the rim.
Here the loaves, now well risen and about 60 minutes later, are sporting fashionable shower caps . Yes, shower caps, from the dollar store (8 for a buck). They work better than cling film which, well… clings and would either restrict the rise or pull off the sides and let the dough dry. And they’re reusable! AND cheaper than the “brand name” food covers that are exactly the same thing.
OK, enough of that. Our oven is now preheating to 350º…
… so in the meantime, the loaves get misted and sprinkled with more cornmeal. Finally, they go into the hot oven for about 40 – 50 minutes.
Voila! Two beautiful, fresh from the oven loaves, a house that smells heavenly and looking forward to slicing into this sligtly modified version (referring to the lighter molasses).
No pics yet but the new crumb is much lighter the old one smells quite distinctly of molasses – had saved the last crust to compare. This one is much lighter and has more of the corn aroma coming through.
We’ll see how long these two loaves last…
Wanna see other bloggers giving this bread a go? Here’s a tiny sampling out of some 185 The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge members you might want to check out…
GothPanda has posted a similar play-by-play description
WhiteApples came out (literally) with some lovely loaves
Susie1955 ditched tradition and did a cool variation
Wants and Kneads also did a step-by-step
At The Very Yeast has included a little tidbit on the bread’s origin
Jeff at Culinary Disasters pumped out a lovely specimen, his first loaf ever!
… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Check out the BBA Challenge homepage at PinchMySalt and the list of members and their blogs is all there. With over 185 members participating and lots of them blogging, there’d be too many to mention here and everyone still has a week before we move on to the next recipe anyway.