Anadama 1st attempt... collapse?
I was stuck without power for 4 days following Irene... fortunately, the local library was open and they had Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I've been reading it for a couple of days (by flashlight :) ) One of the first recipes I looked at was for "Anadama" bread and I figured I try it now that I've got power back.
I started the soaker last night and, this morning, I mixed part of the flour with the yeast, water and corn meal mixture, covered it and let it pre-ferment for about an hour. The instructions said, "or until bubbly" and mine was certainly bubbly by the time the hour was up. Once the pre-ferment was ready, the remaining flour, salt, molasses and shortening (unsalted butter) was mixed in to form the dough. After a couple of minutes in the KA mixer, the dough was still very sticky, so I ended up adding a couple of teaspoons of flour (little by little) to get it (to where I thought it was) right.
After mixing for some time, it still didn't appear to have a very well developed gluten structure (window pane test) so I decided to do some stretch and folds, rest, and S&F again. It really is amazing how doing something so simple for a short amount of time can have such an immediate impact on the dough... It literally changes before your eyes. Anyway, once I was satisfied (or so this newbie thought), I put it in the oven to bulk ferment. The instructions said 60 to 90 minutes (or until doubled in size). I looked at mine after an hour (about 78F in my oven) and it was more than doubled.
All in all, I ended up with a dough that was pretty easy to handle and it felt "right" to me; not stiff, very suptle. Now, since these were going to go into 9x5 loaf pans (first time I've used loaf pans), I didn't think it was THAT important to get the forming done perfectly. Ah, but that was a newbie error :)
Turns out the bread had a nice "oven spring" within the first 10 min or so and, it looked like I hit a home run. However, one of the loaves basically flattened at the top and the other did so partially. This was either due to improper forming or possibly over-proofing (or both)?
This is what the loaves looked like after proofing in the pans (one in stoneware, the other aluminum). At this point I thought they looked just fine.
Here you can see how the one in the aluminum pan gained some height within the first 10 min of baking
But darn it, not too long after, I took a peek and found it had "collapsed" a bit. I was pretty disappointed... (The other one in the stoneware did the same but only on one side).
Here's what the crumb looked like:
I think the unevenness of the holes in the crumb was just due to my own inexperience at working / forming the dough after bulk fermentation. Aesthetics aside, the crumb was nice, light and chewy and had a nice "sweetness" to it. I used "Grandma's Molasses" but not the light variety the recipe called for. I guess this resulted in a "stronger" flavor of molasses, but I really liked it. The crust (sprinkled with corn meal) had a nice crunch to it.
So, not a "total" failure after all... just need to know how to handle this better the next time.