Winter is still here, damn her. Time to go through the recipe box again. Being held captive by the weather leaves Mama D with more time on her hands, My cooking adventures usually involve new recipes, but today I pulled out an oldie but a goody, Anadama Bread.
I made this recipe back in the day…the day being the early 70’s. It was in my earth mother hippie days when I baked bread every week. I also made dandelion wine and yogurt. The yogurt was actually very good, the wine, not so much. Anyway, back then the aroma of this bread as it baked was blissful. Sweet and yeasty with just the faintest scent of corn. The taste echoed the aroma and had subtle chewiness that the cornmeal imparted. A thick slice of Anadama Bread still warm from the oven, thickly spread with butter was, and is, one of the best tastes on earth. How could I have forgotten about this?
There are many different recipes for this New England bread. The ingredients are usually the same save for slightly different measurements. The way the ingredients are combined varies slightly; you either make cornmeal mush or you don’t. Why? you may ask. The story goes that a Fisherman’s wife in Massachusetts named Anna gave her husband the same cornmeal mush for breakfast every day. Sick and tired of it, he took matters into his own hands and added molasses and flour as he muttered (undoubtedly in a thick Boston accent) “Anna, damn her.” However the bread and the name came to be, this molasses and cornmeal bread is great toasted, as a sandwich base or dipped into soup or stew.
It is made like most other yeast breads which means you’ll be spending about 20 minutes making it and a couple of hours waiting for it to be ready. Call me old-fashioned, but I enjoy making bread by hand. I mix it with a wooden spoon and spend the necessary time kneading by hand to create smooth and elastic dough, just like I did back in the “old days.” All that’s missing are the embroidered jeans and bandana.
My recipe combines the cornmeal, yeast and half the flour in a bowl. The butter and molasses are added with hot tap water to create a soft dough. More flour is added until the a “kneadable” dough comes together. Then the requisite 10 minutes of kneading happens resulting in that smooth and elastic dough. The dough then takes an oil bathed rest for an hour or so.
The bread comes out of the oven begging to be eaten, but wait at least a few minutes to cut in. I usually restrain myself for 10 minutes or so.
It’s actually a lovely way to spend an afternoon and the end result is incredibly worth it. Love, Mama D