I had never heard of Anadama bread until we were presented with a couple of loaves by a friend of ours about a year ago. As I recall, the whole episode went something like this……
Ding-dong….the doorbell rings, and I hop up to answer it……
HERE…HAVE SOME DAMN BREAD.
TWO LOAVES OF DAMN BREAD TO BE PRECISE, HOT OUT OF THE OVEN. I MAKE IT ALL THE TIME, IT’S A BIT OF A SPECIALTY OF MINE.
YOU KNOW…..I THOUGHT I’D BRING SOME BY AS A SORT OF HOUSE WARMING GIFT, A LITTLE WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD KIND OF THING. I MAKE THE BEST DAMN BREAD IN TOWN!
Oh…. I get it, this is like when George and Mary Bailey (Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed) bring bread, salt and wine to the Martini family when they move into their new home in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Only Mary’s presentation was a bit more, how shall we say, lyrical?
You remember what she said, don’t you?
Bread.....That this house may never know hunger! Salt......That life may always have flavor!
and Wine…..That joy and prosperity may reign forever!
Ahhhh……Donna Reed, she was something special wasn’t she? Broke the mold after she was made I dare say, and she had such a way with words. Of course that was a gentler time, and given that we now live in a faster-paced world, there’s something to be said for a more direct approach as well, like “HERE, HAVE SOME DAMN BREAD!”
JEEZ, I SAID “HERE HAVE SOME ANADAMA BREAD”….DO YOU NEED A HEARING AID OR SOMETHING?
Oops….help me Clarence, it’s time to earn your wings!
And so it was that I was introduced to Anadama Bread just over a year ago, by our good friend, and local real estate maven Ivana (she has a very exotic name, yes?). Ivana had sold us our home some time before, and after a period of reconstruction, we had finally moved in. She was very sweet to have baked us her famous Anadama Bread, which was delicious, and was even so kind as to recommend a hearing specialist for me to see once we got settled.
Ivana and her family are big fans of “Oui, Chef”, and she has cooked a number of our recipes with her own kids which we think is just awesome!
It turns out that my hearing her describe it as DAMN bread, is not far from the truth about how it was originally named. According to legend, it was invented by a New England fisherman who grew tired of eating the cornmeal and molasses mush made everyday by his wife, Anna. One evening, after a long day of fishing, he came home and, in a fit of anger, went into the kitchen to make something different to eat. He baked a loaf of bread using the ingredients he could find in the kitchen and, while eating his bread, he could be heard mumbling, “Anna, damn her.” Nice, huh?
The recipe she uses is originally from The New York Times Bread & Soup Cookbook by Yvonne Young Tarr.
Boris recently helped me whip up a few loaves of this delicious bread, working on his he-man physique during the kneading process. Between being used for sandwiches and breakfast toast, they each lasted only about a day, this bread is THAT good!
- 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 cups unsifted All-Purpose flour (we used about 8 cups)
- 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
- 2 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 packages dry active yeast
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 1/4 cups warm water (about 130 ℉)
- 3/4 cup molasses at room temperature
- Combine 2 1/2 cups of the flour with the cornmeal, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Add in the butter and mix to incorporate. Add the water and molasses a little at a time, blending after each addition. Turn the mixer to medium speed and blend (scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary) for about 2 minutes. Stir in another 1/2 cup of flour and mix on high speed for about 2 minutes more. Slowly blend in enough of the remaining flour, with the mixer on low-medium, to form a stiff dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
- Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl, turning it over to oil both sides. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft free area to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch down the dough and split into 2 equal parts. Shape the loaves by rolling each piece into a 14"x9" rectangle, folding the sealed ends under. Place the loaves, seam side down into 2 greased, 1 1/2 pound loaf pans. Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
- Pre-heat your oven to 375 ℉ and bake the breads on the center rack for 40-45 minutes. When you think they are done, remove one from the pan and tap it on the bottom, it should sound hollow. Allow them to cool on a rack before cutting.