We prepare our Anadama bread at the Mira Monte from scratch every day. This elegantly simple, traditional New England yeast bread is made with flour, cornmeal, butter and molasses. It is brown and slightly sweet, allowing it to accompany a variety of foods both sweet and savory. There are many stories about how the bread received it’s curious name, all of them undoubtedly apocryphal, but here’s the classic yarn. To fully appreciate this story, it helps to know that Mainers have a penchant for substituting “er” in place of “a” at the end of a word!
Long ago, an old fisherman had a wife named Anna who was so very frugal that she only fed her husband meals of cornmeal mush sweetened with a little molasses. One day, the old fisherman came home determined not to eat another spoonful of mush. He added some flour and yeast to the mush and baked it in the oven to make bread, all the while muttering, “that Anna, damn ‘er!”
And so it was that Anadammer, uh, Anadama bread was born. The bread was so delicious that it became an instant hit and a New England staple. We’ve presented 2 versions here; the first is the rustic “old fisherman’s” version that can be prepared without kneading and without a bread machine. The second is the bread machine version for those of you who are more technologically-inclined.
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 3 Tbsp butter (at room temperature)
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 package dry yeast
- 4 1/2 cups bread flour
- Place the cornmeal in a large bowl. Boil the two cups of water and pour the hot water into the cornmeal, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Let sit for 30 minutes.
- Add the molasses, salt and butter and stir to combine. The cornmeal mixture should still be warm enough to melt the butter.
- Put 1/2 cup warm water into a small bowl. The water should be warm to the touch but not boiling or the yeast will be die. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let sit for a few minutes. Then gently to combine. Let sit for another 5 minutes.
- Add the yeast mixture to the bowl with the cornmeal mixture and mix to combine. Add the bread flour, a cup at a time, stirring after each addition. The dough will be soft and sticky.
- Butter 2 5″x9″ loaf pans. Spoon half the dough mixture into each of the pans. The top of the dough may have an irregular appearance; this is normal. Cover the dough with a towel and let rise for several hours, until it doubles in size.
- Heat the oven to 350°F and bake the bread for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife blade comes out clean. Let the loaves cool for a few minutes, then turn them out onto racks to finish cooling.
Bread Machine Recipe
The dough in this version is less sticky and won’t gum of the works of your machine; it will also result in a lighter texture. The dough can be kneaded by hand if preferred.
- 2 1/2 tsp yeast, or 1 package
- 3 1/2 C bread flour
- 1/3 C yellow cornmeal
- 1 1/2 C boiling water
- 1/3 C molasses
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp butter
- Place the cornmeal into a bowl. Carefully and slowly add the boiling water, stirring continually to prevent lumps.
- Let stand and cool for about 20 minutes.
- Stir in molasses, salt and butter
- Place yeast in the pan of the machine, along with bread flour
- Add the cornmeal mixture, and start machine according to manufacturers directions.
If the dough does not appear to be mixing thoroughly during the kneading process, stop the machine and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Making cookies- what better way to spend an afternoon at home! It just so happens that our innkeeper Bruce is a former chef and culinary instructor. Over the next few weeks he’ll be sharing a few of his favorite recipes along with some goodies from the collections of the Mira Monte. Here’s one we think you’ll really enjoy:
Spumoni Shortbread Cookies- makes about 24 cookies
Inspired by the Classic Italian Gelato Treat. In this simplified version, all ingredients are combined so there’s no need to divide and color dough- but you can if you want!
- 3/4 lb unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup shelled pistachios, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries, finely chopped
- 2 tsp lemon or orange zest (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. In the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until just mixed (you can mix by hand- you’ll develop great biceps!). Add vanilla and lemon zest.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour and salt, add to the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Add cherries and pistachios and mix on low speed until the dough begins to form.
- Turn the dough out on floured work surface and shape the dough into a flat disc. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. Roll the chilled dough out to a thickness of 1/2″. Cut into 2″ squares with a sharp knife, or use cookie cutters to create any shape you’d like.
- Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Cool to room temperature and you’re ready to serve!
Tip: To scale this or any other recipe, divide the desired yield by the yield of your original recipe. The result is a fraction or ratio that you will use to multiply the amount of each ingredient in the original recipe. To use a very simple example, let’s say your recipe will produce 100 cookies, but you need 200 cookies for your upcoming party. 200/100 = 2. Multiply every ingredient in your original recipe by 2 to produce 200 cookies. This is a very simple and intuitive example, but the same principle applies no matter how many cookies you need or how many cookies the original recipe produces. For example, if your original recipe produces 75 cookies but you need 275, then 275/75 = 3.7. Multiply every ingredient by 3.7. You will probably want to round this up to 4 just to make things easier and have a few cookies left over for yourself!
Given the uncertain nature of the COVID-19 crisis, the Town of Bar Harbor has made the difficult decision to keep all hotels, inns, restaurants and shops closed through April 30. The town debated this course of action for several hours, but in the end determined that it was a necessary step in protecting our visitors and our citizens. We support this decision. Our reservation system remains open for dates after April, and we have taken the step of relaxing our cancellation policy should you need to change your plans due to COVID-19. All of us at the Mira Monte wish you continued safety and health during this extraordinary time. We are looking forward to seeing you after the crisis has lifted! -Bruce and Cheryl
By now, you may have heard that the National Park Service will implementing a “timed reservation system” for many of the popular attractions in Acadia National Park, including Cadillac Peak, Jordan Pond, Sand Beach and Eagle Lake. Though originally envisioned to begin in summer of this year, the Park Service has announced that reservations will not be needed through the spring and summer seasons of 2020. A trial system will be tested in the fall, with roll out throughout the park scheduled to begin in the 2021 season. For the time being, you needn’t worry about reserving your place in line or paying additional reservation fees. Of course, we always encourage guests to use the island’s free shuttle service during the summer in order to minimize congestion on the roads. Shuttles meet at the village green, within easy walking distance from the Mira Monte.
The expansive, impeccably-landscaped grounds of the Mira Monte were once the crown jewel of the property. Over the years, they have been featured on HGTV and in numerous travel publications from coast to coast. Though the garden’s spring blooms remain beautiful, their beauty belies a pressing need for renovation. The award-winning firm of Burdick and Associates has been selected to create a comprehensive “master plan” for the restoration and renovation of Mira Monte’s grounds. Burdick specializes in landscapes that create a harmonious balance between human and natural elements that draw upon the native beauty of Maine. While newly-planted areas will focus upon local flora, the 2 formal gardens of the estate will continue to retain their historic character. It is our hope that the grounds will provide a place of beauty and respite for our guests for many years to come!
We are happy to announce that we have contracted Wallace Interiors of Trenton, a leading area design firm, to perform a makeover of 2 of our guest rooms at the Mira Monte. In this pilot project, the North Suite and the Newport room will be re-imagined to feature a bright, refreshed “contemporary Victorian” look. Under the plan, care will be taken to preserve the historic elements of each room, including the many fine Eastlake-style antique furniture pieces in each. We will post updates as work progresses!
Bar Harbor in the winter is a wondrous sight to behold! The advent of snow season promises to turn our seaside town into a winter wonderland; perfect for snow play and cross-country skiing in Acadia National Park. The Mira Monte currently has a limited number of rooms and suites available at very low off-season rates! Book your stay now through March and use promotional code WINTER2020 to receive an additional 20% off! Reservations at this special rate are only available through the Mira Monte website. Click “Check Availability” at the upper right corner of this page, then click the “+” next to “Special Rates” to enter the promotional code. Please note that breakfast and daily housekeeping are not offered during the winter. A number of restaurants and shops in town are open for your dining and buying pleasure. Check weather conditions before booking.
The Mira Monte is full of charm, character and history but caring for this 150-year-old structure can be a daunting task. To us, it’s a labor of love. Time, sub-zero temperatures, snow and our fearsome nor’easters exact a very heavy toll on old wood. We perform regular maintenance at the end of each season to address potential problem areas. The winter season affords us some valuable time to devote to the ongoing renovation of the inn- even when the temperature outside is in single digits and snow blankets the ground. Below, our staff removes a section of damaged sheathing and installs new insulation, wrap and clapboard.
This plaque, to be displayed near the entry, recognizes the Mira Monte inn as the former home of Orlando Ash, an early Bar Harbor entrepreneur and developer who built the Mira Monte and many of the surrounding historic homes. Ash’s holdings were once said to extend from Cadillac Mountain to the sea. Although there have been some competing claims regarding the precise age of the building, the inn is widely recognized as one of the oldest homes in town, as well as one of Bar Harbor’s first B&Bs.
We’re proud to have been awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in our first year as new owners! A BIG THANK YOU to all our guests for making this possible. We won’t forget that your’e the reason for our success!