Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Everything Thats the Kitchen Sink

When you've lived in the same house for going on 25 years, things get old. Sometimes that's nice. Watching the oak tree get taller and taller, seeing the rose bushes go from tiny to magnificent, even seeing the nicks in the wood trim by the fireplace that signifies many warming fires and the kindling that went into them...these are all great reminders of a life built in this old house.

Other things are not so nice. The finish on the stairs in the sun space has grown flaky from constant exposure to the southern light. The carpet in the upstairs part of the sun space has grown very faded. The sink and faucet (well, actually this is faucet number two or three) in the kitchen have grown worn and are showing their age.

The whole kitchen could stand a renovation, but this is not the time for that. The sink, however, has been replaced with a beautiful, simple, white Koehler cast iron one and the faucet set is new, too, with a lovely goose neck curve that makes filling tall pots easy. It even has a spray attachment...something I've wanted for years. The old sink didn't have enough holes for one, but this sink had four holes so I'm a happy camper. The old sink also had a curved piece cut out of the main sink so that a garbage disposal could be installed. The new one is a full rectangle and that makes washing big half-sheet baking pans a breeze. Much of this renovation is a Christmas gift from my Mom....THANKS MOTHER! We pitched in some more for the sprayer and for new shut off valves below the sink. The old ones were truly past their expire date.

If you have been looking at the Daring Baker posts and all of that bread making I've been doing the past few months, you might have imagined the huge numbers of bowls, whisks, pots and pans that needed washing up to work the baking magic. Now I have a sink that will make that so much easier. I might have to bake bread every day!

Speaking of bread, I baked a loaf on Sunday that took all day...ALLLL day...to rise. I finally took it out of the oven about 9 pm. That was the day the sink was being installed. I took the starter out of the fridge first thing in the morning and made the bread about 10 am, then set it to rise in the sun space. At the time it was sunny and warming up a bit. Unfortunately the weather changes, it got colder and I was busy helping, so didn't notice. I tried a barely warm oven and that helped, but not much. I tried the stove top with a cloth over the bowl of dough. Again, it helped, but not much. Since the sink installation was still going on, the poor dough was ignored. Right before dinner it had risen enough to form into loaves. After dinner we turned on a heater, pointed it to the doors of the closed pantry and set the bread pans with the formed loaves on top of the microwave near by. About an hour and a half later they went into a preheated oven and baked for a long time...about an hour I think. It was worth the wait!

This was my first try at making Anadama bread. Maybe it always takes that long for Anadama bread to rise. Sweetie's sister from SF had been visiting earlier in the week and I asked her what bread she had liked to make when she baked bread a while ago. She said, "Anadama Bread", so I had to try making some. It is a New England bread, made with corn meal and molasses.

The version I tried is my variation of a recipe from the New York Times newspaper. I divided the cornmeal in half and used polenta for half and regular cornmeal for half. I also used both whole wheat and all-purpose flour. The cup of whole wheat flour was added at the end of the cooking of the cornmeal so that it could hydrate while the mixture cooled to tepid. Next time I may reduce the molasses amount a bit because it overpowers the corn flavor a little. Mostly I really like this bread. It makes wonderful, full flavored toast. The crumb is tight, moist, and there is a little bit of grit texture from the polenta...only a tiny bit, but enough to notice. The crust is just thick enough and it is a good sandwich bread, too, for full flavored sandwich fillings.

In a warm house it might take the total 4 hours time called for in the recipe, but my house was chilly on Sunday and I didn't enhance my starter with extra yeast as I sometimes do. The bread was worth the wait.

Anadama Bread
makes two loaves

1/4 cup polenta style corn meal
1/4 cup regular corn meal
2 cups water, divided
1/2 cup molasses (I would use less...maybe 1/3 cup next time)
6 tablespoons butter, softened,
1 1/4 oz package active dry yeast (or 1 cup sourdough starter...which is what I used)
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups (about) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
oil for greasing

In a bowl, whisk together the polenta and the cornmeal and 1 cup of the cold 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 the molasses and the butter.

Add the whole wheat flour and stir until all is combined. Transfer mixture to bowl of an electric stand mixer and cool to tepid. (Or transfer to a mixing bowl large enough to mix the dough by hand and then knead in the rest of the flour.)

In a small bowl, stir together the yeast and 1/2 cup water until yeast has dissolved. (Or add the 1 cup sourdough starter to the mixing bowl with the tepid cornmeal mixture.) Add to cornmeal and mix on low speed with dough-hook attachment for several seconds. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing for several seconds after each addition. Sprinkle in the nutmeg and salt, and continue mixing until dough completely comes away from sides of bowl, about 7 minutes.

Lightly oil a bowl. Form dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Oil a sheet of plastic wrap and loosely cover dough. Allow dough to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Lightly grease two 9 x 4 inch loaf pans. Press down dough and divide it into 2 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 F. 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 onto wire cooling rack. Serve warm if possible.

I'm going to send this one over to Susan of Wild Yeast at Yeastspotting. Go on over and check out the delicious ways that fellow bakers are using yeast.


  1. Yay for new sinks! And yay for great looking bread.

  2. Lovely, lovely. Anadama has been on my list for years.
    Love the new sink. I've longed for one that would take the big stuff for years! Congratulations.

  3. Anonymous6:27 AM

    Hi Elle! I love the smell of baking bread in the house. This bread looks so yummy :)

  4. OH, yum. Which did you like better, the polenta or the cornmeal version? Have you ever made a bread with semolina? Also some interesting textures there.

    Lovely sink. I very much miss the deep, brushed stainless steel one I only got to enjoy for a year before we moved. It had a sprayer, too, which we don't have here. Our sink is microscopic... sigh.

  5. Elle,

    Anadama bread is just about one of my favorite breads. I was planning on working on a sourdough version of the bread next but I think I'll use your's and see where we go from there as it looks fantastic!

    Anadama bread is a slow riser so I'm not surprised it took all day for it to rise with the sourdough starter.

    As a "New Englander" might I share the story behind the name of the bread:

    A New England woodsman was married to a woman named Anna, who was a horrible cook. All she could cook was corn mush.

    One day after a very long day in the cold woods he came home to find corn mush for dinner. He was so angry, he grabbed the bowl of corn mush, went to the kitchen and added some molasses, flour, and yeast to the mixture to make dough. While he was waiting for the bread to bake, he sat by the fire muttering "Anna, damn her. Anna, damn her." over and over.

    Thus, Anadama bread!

    There are several versions of this story, where the husband is from Vermont, NH, MA, and Maine and is a fisherman, a lumberjack, etc.

    Enjoy the bread!

  6. I love Anadama bread! So much flavour and added crunch. Yay for the new sink!

  7. The bread looks fabulous!! And I am glad you have a new sink!

  8. Elle, darling, my sincere apologies for not visiting to wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy New Year. I transferred my feeds to a reader and some of them (among yours) did not show up so little by little, I have been adding them manually. Do forgive me.

    I hope that you are well.

  9. Anonymous8:41 PM

    Congratulations on the fabulous new sink! I love Anadama to eat, but never made it; it's probably time.

  10. I like gifts like that - great new sink. Almost worth making bread every day - one so you can eat it and then wash up all the big baking kit...

  11. I've made this bread several times with great success. Thanks so much for the recipe.