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.