The old saying, “the greatest thing since sliced bread” is no joke. Once upon a time bread was not only a staple food, but also a lot harder to come by. Even though we can buy great bread at the store so easily today, but when it comes to brown breads homemade is often the best. And, this New England treat isn’t even available in stores.
Anadama bread has an unusual title, with various tales about how it got its name. One version goes that a man was cursing his wife, Ana, and this is a jumble of these words when she served him this bread too many times. Another story is that a man cursed with pride at how good his wife’s bread was.
We’ll never know exactly why the bread has its weird name, but the defining feature of this recipe is the addition of molasses and cornmeal to the dough, which gives it a complex flavor.
Molasses gives the bread its dark color and the cornmeal helps the bread to rise while also giving it a toothier texture once it’s been baked. This unique flavor and texture makes this bread a real treat, even more so if you eat it with honey and butter- this was always my mom’s favorite way to have bread.
To begin making this recipe you’ll need to wake up your yeast in a small bowl of warm water with a little sugar added. Then combine this with milk, cornmeal, molasses, honey, butter, salt, and flour. This recipe calls for 7 to 8 cups of flour and this is because the moisture levels of flour can vary. You’ll also need plenty of flour for your work surface, too.
You’ll have to knead the dough until it becomes elastic and then let it rise until it reaches double in size. Then punch down the dough and divide into 3 loaves. Allow this to rise again and then you’re ready to bake.
Once this comes out of the oven you have a tender, sweet, and nutty bread that’s wonderful with tea or coffee for breakfast. It’s one treat that once you taste, you’ll be eager to make again.
Makes 3 loaves
2h 45m prep time
45m cook time
2h 10m inactive
- 2 packages dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm (not hot) water
- 1 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup dark molasses
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons salted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 7-8 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
- Dissolve yeast in warm water and add sugar. Allow to activate for 5 minutes. Grease a large mixing bowl with vegatble oil and set aside.
- In another large bowl combine yeast mixture, milk, cornmeal, molasses, honey, butter, and salt. Stir to combine and then add in half the flour. Stir again and then pour in the rest of the flour in 1 cup increments, stirring after each addition. Stop adding flour when the dough becomes too stiff to stir.
- Flour work surface and turn out bread dough onto it. Knead for 10 minutes or until dough becomes very elastic.
- Place dough in greased bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a towel or some plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. Punch down and then set aside for 10 minutes. Divide into 3 sections, shaping each one into a loaf. Place each loaf into a 9”x5” loaf pan and let rise for another 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350˚F and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Serve warm with a pat of butter if possible.
Recipe adapted from New England Food Today.