After asking how to say it, most people want to know about the origins of Anadama bread. This is what my 1960s-era Betty Crocker cookbook says:
The name comes from a New England fisherman whose lazy wife always served him corn meal mush and molasses. One day, tired of the same corn meal mush for dinner, he mixed it with flour and yeast and baked it as bread, saying “Anna damn her.”
That story is a good ice-breaker, but it’s not the recipe we use. We’ve adapted another from my husband’s Aunt Helen, well known for her bread baking skill. It’s similar in texture to the type of bread widely known as English Muffin bread, and equally as worthy of your toaster. The traditional recipe is a New England kind of thing from what I can gather, and they apparently use molasses as the sweetener. Since we already were offering our Molasses Oat Bread I wanted to do something different. Helen’s recipe uses honey instead. Over the years we’ve cut way back on the amount of honey and butter but still have a moist crumb that’s just slightly sweet. That makes it a great choice for ham or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, toast with slightly tart jam, or French toast. Kids will ask for seconds — a friend of my son once ate three PB&J sandwiches for lunch here. And promptly fell asleep on the couch.
Use your microwave to cook the cornmeal. People try to skip this step but making the mush, à la the poor fisherman, makes the crumb moist. Follow this recipe once or twice before you experiment, but the amount of whole wheat flour can be increased up to 30-40% of the total flour. You can try the New England way and use molasses instead of honey, or try a dark honey like buckwheat.
Even though I don’t refrigerate bread as a rule, this one may require it, especially if the weather is very warm and/or humid. Mold sets in easily. So if you happen not to eat the whole loaf in a couple of days, store it in the fridge or slice it and freeze so you can take out a slice or two as you need it.
— Joan, 20 February 2016
- 2 1/3 cups (530 grams) warm water
- 14 tablespoons (126 grams) yellow cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) butter
- ¼ cup (92 grams) honey
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 4¼ cups (598 grams) bread flour
- ¼ cup (28 grams) whole wheat flour
Stir the water and cornmeal together in a microwavable measuring cup or bowl, stirring out any clumps that form. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, then stir it well. Continue cooking it like this, alternating cooking and stirring every 2-3 minutes, until the water has been absorbed and the mush is thick. Don’t worry about lumps unless they’re very large. You can mash them up with a fork or immersion blender. Stir the butter and honey into the hot mush, then spread it out onto a flat cookie sheet to cool to lukewarm.
Mix the yeast and salt into the bread and whole wheat flour. Scrape the mush (it will probably have gelled somewhat as it cools) into a mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook, add the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing on slow speed until all the flour is incorporated. This will be a sticky dough. If it seems very dry and forms clumps, add water a tablespoon at a time and mix well before adding more, till you have a cohesive dough that still sticks a bit to the bottom of the mixer. Knead on medium speed for about 5 minutes.
Turn the dough out into a greased container and cover. After 20 minutes, remove dough and proceed with folding in quarters (see pictures and instructions here), repeating after 20 more minutes. Then cover and set in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
When dough has doubled in bulk, divide it into two pieces and shape the loaves as desired. Place in greased pans, brush lightly with water and sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside to proof again. Depending on the temperature of your proofing environment (ideally 70-75°F) this will take 45 minutes to 2 hours. It’s ready to bake when the dough is about 1″ above the lip of the pan and a light finger poke remains indented.
Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 40-45 minutes, till tops are golden brown. Turn out of the pans and let the loaves cool for 20 minutes on their sides, then turn them over and let them finish cooling on the other side, about 3 hours. Cooling on their sides prevents the top from caving in. To freeze, wrap tightly in foil and place in freezer weight bags.