Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Babes And An Old New England Bread

This month I have the honor of being the Kitchen of the Month and have asked my fellow Bread Baking Babes to gather around the kitchen table and to have fun with Anadama Bread, an old New England favorite. Sweetie enjoys this bread because of the molasses and I enjoy the seeds and the fact that it makes great toast. It has corn meal in it for body and mine was a fairly compact bread which rose well enough as it was proofing, but didn't have much oven spring either time I made it. You can have fun with this bread by changing out the seeds. The first time I made it I didn't have many seeds on hand, so I used mostly flax and poppy seeds. 

The second time I used those, but also used sesame seeds and sunflower seeds, plus I used regular flour and just a bit of millet flour. I'm pretty sure that traditional Anadama Bread doesn't have much in the way of seeds, so this is a good recipe to have fun with, knowing that you are giving and old New England bread a new way of being.

Anadama bread is an old time bread, baked at least since 1850. This recipe is from the March 2015 Bon Appetit magazine.
 I tried it out in a semi-gluten free version, replacing 1/2 cup of the wheat flour with buckwheat flour and the King Arthur Flours gluten free flour mix so I could actually try a slice and not suffer for it. I also used a non-dairy butter substitute instead of the butter. For seeds I used 3 tablespoons whole brown flax seeds and 4 teaspoons poppy seeds.  I baked it in a long, thin bread pan, which is usually good for gluten free baking, so it made a long, narrow loaf. I think a regular sized loaf pan would make nicer bread for sandwiches. 

This dough made a pretty dense loaf with wonderful flavor and fragrance. I would recommend using regular flour (unbleached or whole wheat), real butter and whichever seed mixture you like, staying pretty close to the same seed proportions. Do allow time for the three risings.
No one really knows how this bread got its name. Wikipedia says, "An apocryphal story told about the origin of the bread goes like this: Every day a local worker would find cornmeal mush in his tin lunch pail, despite asking his wife for an occasional piece of bread. One day, because of weather or other circumstances, he came home just prior to lunch time. His wife, Anna, was out. He sat down and opened his lunch box to find the usual cornmeal mush. He sighed and said, "Anna, damn her," as he resolutely reached for the flour, molasses and yeast which he added to the cornmeal mush. His resulting bread became a local favourite."
 King Arthur Flour has this explanation: "There are many versions of how this bread came into being. They're all similar, but each varies slightly. The general consensus is that a New England woman named Anna provoked her husband — some say through laziness, others say from baking the same bread daily, or for not finishing her bread-baking. The husband either threw a bag of cornmeal at her and missed, but spilled it into the dough; or he grabbed cornmeal instead of flour and tried to finish her bread. He muttered, "Anna, damn her!"
So you can freely swear while making this bread (it's tradition, right?), have some wine while it rises and rises again...and again, and enjoy it as the weather grows ever colder.

Be sure to visit the other Babes sites to see what their version is and since this is a wonderful bread to go with a pot of hot soup, there is likely to be a good day to make it between now and December 29th. Make the bread, send me an e-mail with a photo and a note about your experience with it, and I'll send you a Buddy badge created by our talented Babe Lien. My e-mail is elle dot lachman at gmail dot com. Looking forward to seeing your beautiful, seedy Anadama Bread.

Anadama Bread - Makes one loaf

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan
1 - 1/4 oz. envelope active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 cup stone ground medium cornmeal
1/4 cup mild-flavored molasses
2 tablespoons help seeds or white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon nigella seeds or black sesame seeds
2 tsp. golden flaxseed
2 tsp. brown flaxseed
2 tsp. poppy seeds
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading, etc.
1 large egg, beaten to blend
Salted butter, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter an 8" x 4" loaf pan and line with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang. (I skipped the parchment and baked the bread in a narrower and longer pan.)

Place yeast in a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 1 cup warm water; stir to dissolve the yeast. Add the cornmeal, molasses, help seeds, nigella seeds, golden and brown flax seeds, poppy seeds and salt. Stir to combine using a wooden spoon. Continue stirring with the wooden spoon or use the dough hook if using the stand mixer. Add 2 cups of flour and 2 tablespoons of butter and mix until no dry spots remain.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 10-15 minutes OR mix in stand mixer on medium speed 8-10 minutes.

Lightly butter a medium bowl. Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat. (Elizabeth might skip the butter part.) Cover with plastic wrap or shower cap and let rise in warm, draft-free spot until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough to deflate; cover. Let rise again until about doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into and 8' x 4' rectangle. Starting at the short side furthest from you, roll up dough, pinching the seam as you go to create a tight roll. Pinch seam to close and tuck ends under, pinching to seal. Place seam side down in the prepared loaf pan. Cover with plastic and let dough rise. Uncover before it crests the top of the pan and wait for it to spring back slightly when pressed, about 1 hour.

Brush top of dough with egg. Bake, rotating halfway through, until bread is baked through and the top is a deep golden brown, 45-50 minutes. Let cool slightly in the pan on a wire rack before turning out. Let cool on the rack before slicing (if you can wait that long). Serve with salted butter.

Bread can be made 5 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.


  1. The story behind the name just made me snort. REALLY!? Damana bread would've worked better, but no one asked me. I do tend to put a ratio of 2:1 with cornmeal in my cornbread, so this seems like it'll work well for me. Plus, I'm a big fan of molasses-sweetened brown breads. Looks yum!

  2. Thanks so much for being the kitchen of the month! Great choice!! I'm glad I had a chance to revisit this bread. Much better this time with the seeds.

  3. hahaha! I'm glad I didn't see the note to allow time for 3 risings! It took pretty much all day for just one rise!

    But, in spite of the long long rise time, we LOVE this bread! It was fabulous with chili. The only thing wrong with it was that there was only one loaf.

    Many thanks for choosing this, Elle!

  4. Thanks so much for hosting the monthly bake and for choosing something healthy and comforting. I've always liked Anadama bread and now I like it even more. Love the seeds!

  5. I love these old recipes - and the old stories. I can almost hear the old guy muttering lol

  6. I love almost anything with corn meal molasses and seeds. This looks fantastic. I remember seeing the recipe in one of my old cook books. Great choice!

  7. I'm glad that I managed to bake after all and got over my dislike of Anadama bread! This one is so light and airy, I can see myself baking it some more. Thanks for a wonderful recipe choice!