I love Anadama sandwich bread. Anadama is about as un-brown-bread-like as a bread can be. Light, fluffy, moist, tender, flavorful. The only resemblance to brown bread is the color. The corn and molasses make for a mouth-wateringly unique flavor and texture.
There are so many possible back-stories for this one – almost all of them cursing some poor woman named Anna.
The stories I've heard so far say the name originated when:
- An old New England farmer damned his wife for putting cornmeal in every darn thing.
- A Rockport (Massachusetts,) fisherman, fed up with his wife's cooking, added flour and yeast to his porridge one day, muttering, "Anna, damn her."
- A husband exclaimed approvingly "Anna, damn her!" while eating the delicious bread
- A sea captain carved on his great-bread-baking wife's grave: "Anna was a lovely bride, but Anna, damn 'er, up and died"
Interestingly, "Anadem" is Latin for a wreath or garland for the head, from the Greek verb meaning "to bind up."
Whatever. It's a good, sturdy New England bread that makes great sandwiches.
Anadama Bread Recipe
Makes a 9-inch loaf
1/3 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp yeast
5 Tbsp molasses
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 cups flour
2 tsp salt
Mix the warm water, yeast, and molasses, and set aside for about 5 minutes to let it proof.
Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter is melted and the milk is warm. Stir in the cornmeal and cook, stirring, for about a minute, then remove from the heat and allow it to cool.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and cooled cornmeal mixture. Add the yeast mixture and mix until a soft dough forms.
Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. It will be a very sticky dough, so you might need to add more flour, but try not to add too much, as it will dry out the bread. Instead of adding the flour directly to the dough, try lightly flouring your hands when the dough starts sticking to them.
Once you have a nice smooth dough, let it rise in an oiled bowl, covered, in a warm place, until it's doubled in size – about 2 hours.
Punch the dough down and stretch into a 9- by 5-inch rectangle. Roll it like a hot dog to make a 9-inch-long cylinder, and place it in a greased, 9-by-5-inch bread pan. Press it down until it fits. Cover and let rise again for another 2 hours, then uncover and bake for about 45 minutes.