Friday, September 3, 2010
Hamelman's Corn Bread
What a day! I am amazed this loaf made it to the table. Everything that I could do wrong, I did wrong and it still tasted good. Hamelman's corn bread (recipe here) is a yeast bread with some corn meal (flour) in it and mostly bread flour. It's a moist, heavy, but at the same time soft bread. Delicious. I started making the bread at 10 am today. I mixed the preferment, thinking I could bake tomorrow. I decided to make half a batch then I went to Applebee's with my friend, Cathy. On the way home I was daydreaming and started to turn in front of a car. Whew! That was close! When I got home, the preferment (which was supposed to sit overnight) hadn't really done anything yet and I started the bread anyway (I don't know why I didn't wait until tomorrow). Forgetting that I was only making half a batch I warmed the wrong amount of water and tossed it in the bowl, without measuring or weighing it. What was I thinking? Then I added the corn flour, weighing it first (amazingly). Then I realized that the preferment was for a half batch. Okay, I thought, I can figure this out and save it. I did everything I could to make it into a full batch. But it won't have the flavor, I thought, so I tossed in a couple of spoonfuls of my sourdough starter, thinking that might give it a little flavor. Then I realized that I wasn't supposed to make the bread until tomorrow (crap!). I finally got the dough mixed up according to directions and it seemed okay. But then I decided we may as well have it for dinner and if I followed instructions, the rise time and folding would take too long. Soooo... I kneaded it longer until it almost passed a windowpane test and let it rise for 1 hour. It doubled so I made up loaves and let it rise about 40 minutes. The instructions called for baking at 460 degrees. I thought I would give them a boost and start at 500 and immediately turn it down to 450 when I put the loaves in. When the loaves were finally in the oven, I used my teakettle to put boiling water in the steam pan, or tried to. After fully steaming my right hand (ouch!) and spilling most of the water on the oven door and floor and stone, I gave up. The loaves were doing well after about 10 minutes so I set a timer and sat down in the living room where I couldn't hurt anything else or myself. A few minutes later, I smelled something burning. AAK! I forgot to turn the oven down. The loaves were very brown and only a little burnt but not done on the inside so I put foil over them (so they wouldn't brown anymore) and turned the oven down to 400 and let them go another 10 minutes. The back of one the loaves is very burned but I didn't take a picture of that.
Despite all of that, the bread was actually very good. I wonder how different it would taste if I made it correctly.
I hope you don't think I'm like this all the time. Today I just had one of those "should have stayed in bed" days. Anyway, next time you're having a bad day, read this again! It'll make you feel better.