Week #1: “Mom, why is there white powder all over your camera?” (Or, How I lost my blogger virginity.)

BBA Book

May 19, 2009

Several weeks ago, I accidentally stumbled across a wonderful food blog called Pinch My Salt , by Nicole Hamaker.  Nicole was about to embark on an exciting journey, baking her way through Peter Reinhart’s book, “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”, one recipe at a time.  She was looking for company.  I have to admit, I’m not really a goal oriented person, but I felt compelled to join up.  I was # 109.  Now we are 200 strong baking our way from “Anadama Bread” all the way through to “Whole Wheat Bread”.  Yes we are going alphabetically.  We’ll tackle one bread a week and communicate through e-mail, blogging,  Twitter, a Facebook group, Flickr and  a Google group


Two weeks ago, I didn’t’ even know what blogging or Twitter was, and now I have set up my own food blog and joined Twitter. I still have not yet figured out how to actually Twitter (or is it Tweet?), and I am now very nervous as I already have 9 followers and have not led them anywhere yet.  When I told my 3 teenage children (19, 17 and 16) what I was doing, they mocked me and told me I really need to get a life.  I told them, if they continue to mock me, no bread for them.  They quickly stopped.  So if you’re interested in my journey, join me each week as I chronicle my bread baking adventure.  By the way, if you haven’t figured it out yet, the white powder on my camera was flour.  Food blogging is messy.

Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge # 1 Anadama Bread

The first bread I made originated in New England. There’s an old legend that tells of how the bread got it’s name.  A Massachusetts man was left by his wife.  Not only did she leave him, but she also took all their belongings and left him with only a pot of cornmeal mush and some molasses.  The husband  was so mad he mixed the  mush and molasses together with some yeast and flour and muttered, “Anna, damn’ er!”   Highly unlikely.  If I did that, my husband would call for take-out, but it makes a good story.  Making this bread is not that complicated but it does take 2 days.  Day 1 begins with mixing cornmeal and water together in a bowl and leaving it overnight on the counter to soak. I managed that without too much drama but there was quite a discussion on our Google site about what kind of cornmeal to use -coarse, medium or fine grain. I used coarse.  On to day 2.

 The recipe calls for molasses which I find kind of cloying.  So I made an executive decision to substitute honey for some of the molasses. Instructions are given for kneading by hand or in a stand mixer.  I love my Kitchen Aid so I kneaded by machine.  It was a beautiful elastic dough.  I let it rise in a big bowl for an hour, then formed my loaves and let it rise a second time in the pan.  Here are the loaves ready to go into the oven.

Breads ready to go into the oven

After 40 minutes my bread was done.  I love this book because the instructions are so detailed.  Most bread recipes tell you to bake until the bread is golden brown and makes a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.  I have never understood what I am supposed to be hearing.  What exactly does hollow bread sound like?  Peter Reinhart tells us to bake it until an instant read thermometer, inserted into the center of the bread, registers 185 to 190 degrees F .  Mine registered 189.  Here is is right out of the oven.  For some reason, the bread on the left had a bit of a valley down the middle, while the one on the right rose perfectly.

Breads just out of the oven

Now the hard part.  Waiting one hour before slicing into the loaves.  It was worth the wait.   It’s a soft bread but a bit crunchy because of the cornmeal.  For dinner that night I fed my family bread and butter.  No complaints.  We all liked it even better toasted the next day for breakfast, with salted butter and American Spoon sour cherry preserves.  Here is the bread sliced before the hordes got home and attacked it.

Bread sliced

Stay tuned for my next post, “Artos”, a Greek celebration bread.  Feel free to leave a comment in the space below.  I’d love to hear from you.

37 thoughts on “Week #1: “Mom, why is there white powder all over your camera?” (Or, How I lost my blogger virginity.)

  1. Victoria

    There is flour all over my camera! Sometimes I think I take photos of the bread baking just to scuff up my camera so I justify upgrading.

    FIRST COMMENT EVER!!! (That’s never happened to me before).

    1. saltandserenity

      Glad to have you as my first. What are you shooting with? I have a Cannon 20 D digital SLR. Huge and heavy but takes great pics.

  2. Sweetcharity

    Gorgeous loaves!! I really loved this bread, especially for sandwiches. The crunch of the cornmeal made for a magical grilled cheese!
    Now onto the Artos!!
    Happy Baking! 🙂

  3. Susie

    I too had a floured camera. 🙂 Great reading your 1st post. You’re a natural blogger.
    Your loaves look wonderful and it is great to bake along with you.

  4. Janice

    Congrats on your new blog! My family loved the Anadama Bread, too. We normally don’t have sandwiches for dinner, but last week they were requested every night.

  5. Appoggiatura

    Yay, Cindy! Your blog is up and running, and you have a great first post! Many congratulations. Your anadama turned out enviably; I could stand for some of those sour cherry preserves. Right now my Christopsomos is proofing, so we’ll see how that one turns out. Looking forward to reading your next post.

  6. Caitlin

    Welcome to the blogosphere! Beautiful looking bread, I can’t wait to bake through all of these with such awesome BBA’ers. Oh, and I love your blog title.

  7. gaaarp

    Nice blog! I’m glad you decided to join the Challenge and to start blogging, too. I’m enjoying blogging much more than tweeting so far, how about you?

    1. saltandserenity

      Thanks. I feel there is still so much to learn about blogging. It will take a while. I don’t think I will be doing much Tweeting. I don’t really understand it.

  8. Barbara

    What a fabulous blog — love all the details, the photos and the extra information. As a fellow bread junkie (and yes, eater of saltandserenity’s challah at rosh hashanah!), I will follow this with great interest! Mazal tov!

  9. Corrie

    Good looking breads Cind.
    I’ll have to show this to Paul. He might be interested in joining the challenge. He’s made bread a few times this year.Some have been really good. Nice & Crunchy tops, soft insides. Tasty!
    He is however banned from baking for a while because I’m tired of cleaning up the flour & sticky dough that is left behind all over the counters, oven, stove top, pots and floor .
    Looking forward to your next update.

  10. Linda Montemarano

    This is great Cindy! I love bread too, but what Italian doesn’t! Step one for me it to get a KitchenAid and then the baking begins. I will follow this to feed my ‘hungry crowd’ as well. Lots of fun and looking forward to the next installment.

  11. susan

    Hi Cindy,

    The Greek bread looks amazing. It will be great to have this as a resource. I used to make all my bread “back in the day” so maybe I will get back in to it with this inspiration!


  12. Sharon Pickle

    Cindy, This is very exciting. I like your site and all of your information. Did you tap the bread on the bottom to hear the hollow sound. It’s always worked for me. I haven’t baked bread for a long time. This is as an amazing journey. Thank you for including me.

    1. saltandserenity

      I don’t really know waht hollow bread sounds like. I use my instaread thermometer. When it registers 180 – 190 degrees F. it’s done. Thanks for checking in to see my blog.
      Namaste. see you next week.

  13. Christine

    Cindy — you look like you’re having a blast! Your website is most professionally done (of course) and it’s hard to believe that the woman who’s doing this just lives around the corner!
    Making those bagels seems quite an ordeal — I confess I got tuckered out just reading all the many steps to go through. I applaud your tenancity. And if you ever need new recruits as part of your ‘bread testing’ troop … I’d be happy to run over and help with the judging! 🙂

    1. saltandserenity

      Thanks Christine,
      I have had to up my time on the treadmill and eliptical trainer so I will be sending samples over soon or else i will be the size of a house. Glad you like the blog.

  14. marla

    I love your blog. It is just like a conversation. You are the only person i know who heard the part about bagels in the Madona song. I laugh every time i lsten to it. My kids think I am an idiot when they hear me laugh and the reason….The breads and bagels sound yummy. I am not much of a baker so i will live vicariously through you. I stick to cooking, wine and chocolate! Please keep blogging.

  15. Kayte

    Wonderful looking bread…so even and beautiful color! I just joined Twitter also because all my Whisk Wednesday and TWD pals said I HAD to do it. It’s been fun. Find me…kbgerth so I can find you! I have the privacy lock on mine, but it will send me a message to approve…and I will do that so I can follow yours. I have two 16 year old sons…they pose on my blog posts for TWD eating the food so people will actually know my food is edible on a weekly basis…LOL. Great post!

    1. saltandserenity

      Thanks for all your nice comments. I joined Twitter when I originally joined this group as I thought that was the main way of communicating. However, I have to be honest. I don’t quite get how it works. Do you send a tweet from your cell phone, or your computer? I am terribly ignorant of this whole thing and don’t understand the appeal.

      I’ll tutor you in baking and you can tutor me in twitter! Cindy

  16. Hilda

    Except for the kneading work, you almost tempt me to make bagels. Maybe when my niece visits we can both work on some. The look just great. But taste is everything with bagels. Great job!

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