Anadama Bread: A Very Good Place To Start


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Among the lessons I've learned while baking bread, this, I suppose, could have been the most predictable: Baking bread is not like riding a bicycle. If you haven't done it in a long time, well, don't count on being able to do it again.

I won't go into it, but there exists a recent valiant attempt at making multigrain bread extraordinaire, which many bakers in the Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge had pronounced a breeze. In my Brooklyn kitchen, however, this turned out to be anything but. And the end result was a flat dense brick that was as saggy in the center as it was dry and mealy.

"You're out of practice," the husband noted. (Which earned him extra dishwashing duties but — I had to admit — was not untrue.)

How to solve the problem? An old Julie Andrews song instantly came to mind.

Perhaps, I thought, it might help to go back and start at the very beginning …

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Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread: A Matter of Balance


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Earlier this week, I found myself obsessing over balance.

Specifically, how on earth was I supposed to piggyback one braid of cranberry-walnut dough atop another and expect it to be balanced enough to stay on?

I’d heard of difficulties in this area; I’d even seen one picture of a mutant cranberry-walnut celebration bread in which the top layer of this double-decker braided bread had slipped off, forming an “Alien”-like doughy growth.

Given my recent mishaps while baking my way through Peter Reinhart’s bread bible, the Bread Baker’s Apprentice, I was certain that Alien bread was in my very near future.

But if this weekly baking challenge has taught me anything, it’s that the trying is what’s important.

So I pulled out the bread flour and let the baking begin …

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