The goal of the BBA group is to make each recipe in the BBA book weekly and I'm going to do what I can to stay on this schedule in going through this book. I own many, and I do mean many cookbooks, but I can't say that I've made every single recipe in even one--so this challenge will be an exciting one and of course I'll be sharing it here each week.
- 1 cup cornmeal, coarse grind (I used a medium grind that worked great)
- 1 cup water, at room temperature
1) The day before making the bread, make the soaker by mixing the cornmeal and water in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight at room temperature.
- 4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (I used 2 cups a/p flour & 2 1/2 cups bread flour)
- 2 tsp. instant yeast (I didn't have instant yeast on hand, so I used a packet of active yeast instead)
- 1 cup water, lukewarm (90 degrees to 100 degrees F)
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 6 Tbsp. molasses (I used Grandma's Molasses - Original)
- 2 Tbsp. shortening or unsalted butter, at room temp. (I prefer using butter, rather than shortening)
- Cornmeal for dusting (optional) *The cornmeal is great and adds an extra texture that works well with this bread.
2) Stir together 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, soaker, and water in a mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and ferment for 1 hour, or until the sponge begins to bubble.
3) Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of flour, the salt, the molasses, and shortening or butter and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment, until the ingredients form a ball.
4) Sprinkle flour on the counter or large cutting board. Move dough to the floured workspace and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook), you may need to add more flour as you knead the dough, enough that it isn't sticking to the counter.
6) Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 2 equal pieces of 24 ounces, or 3 pieces of about 16 ounces. Shape the dough into loaves, and place them into the bread pans that have been lightly oiled or misted with spray oil (the larger loaves should go into 9 x 5-inch pans and the smaller loaves into 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch pans). Mist the tops of the loaves with spray oil and loosely cover the tops with plastic wrap. (I used glass pans, and they worked fine--just make sure they are well oiled, so the bread releases easily after being baked.)
7) Proof at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the loaves crest fully above the tops of the pans. (If you want to hold back any of the loaves, place them in the refrigerator without proofing, where they will hold, or retard, for up to 2 days. Remove them from the refrigerator about 4 hours before baking and proof them at room temperature, or until ready.)
*I set the timer for exactly 1 hour and only made it 26 minutes before cutting into the warm, oh-so-awesome smelling bread...
And the verdict you ask? Well, let's just say that I polished off three slices while it was still warm and yes, I will be making this recipe again.