Anadama bread

I’m really starting to get into this bread baking business.

I’ll admit I’d never heard of, let alone eaten, Anadama bread before I started thumbing through my copy of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

Apparently the legend goes something like this:

From the Wikipedia entry:  “A fisherman, angry with his wife, Anna, for serving him nothing but cornmeal and molasses, one day adds flour and yeast to his porridge and eats the resultant bread, while cursing, “Anna, damn her.” The neighbors baked it because it was so delicious and coined it Anadama or Anadamy.”

or there’s this version:

From Peter Reinhart who quotes Judith and Evan Jones’ The Book of Bread, which “tells the story of a Rockport, Massachusetts, man who was upset with his wife not only for leaving him, but also for leaving behind only a pot of cornmeal mush and some molasses.  The angry husband tossed the mush and molasses together with some yeast and flour and muttered, “Anna, damn ‘er!”  This was later amended by the more genteel local Yankees, as they retold the story, to anadama.”

Whichever story you believe, there’s still an angry husband living in Rockport, Massachusetts, some cornmeal, molasses, and yeast.  And the end result is some damn tasty bread as I would come to find out.

Me kneading the dough

To start you begin by mixing together cornmeal and water, letting that sit on the counter overnight.  The next day a sponge is made by mixing flour, water, yeast and the soaker (the cornmeal and water) together.  Let this sit for an hour or so and then add the rest of the ingredients:  more flour, molasses, shortening and salt.

Knead for a bit to develop gluten and until the dough can pass the windowpane test.  Ferment until the dough has doubled in size, then shape into loaves (either 2 or 3), then proof for another hour and a half or so.  Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes and you got yourself some fine bread.

Loaves of Anadama bread

Reinhart suggests using the lightest molasses you can find, but me being kind of lazy, I used what I had on hand, which is really dark, though I used a little less than the recipe called for just in case it gave off too much flavor.  I also had to use more flour than the recipe called for in order for the dough to not be sticky.

My dough yielded 3 loaves, one of which I’m giving away and one of which is almost gone (in less than 24 hours).  We’ve just been eating it with some salted Irish butter on it, though I’m thinking that this bread could make some really nice dinner rolls.

Sliced Anadama bread

I’ve no idea what I’ll be making next, though I’m thinking of bagels for next weekend.

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