New England Anadama Bread: Rediscovering (and recovering) a baking classic

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If you were to take your best guess at where much of my energy and enthusiasm for baking and writing about food comes from, what would you say?  Wait, I’ll make it even easier and narrow it down to just a few choices.

  1. 3 3/4 Hour Energy Drink! It’s AMAZING! It’s DELICIOUS!
  2. Long walks in the snow, bundled up like a Yeti, while singing show tunes.
  3. My KAF friends and family, including you all leaving comments, talking about food memories and traditions.
  4. A double espresso teamed with a Murder, She Wrote marathon.

And the results?

  1. I’m afraid of the stuff, seriously.
  2. Go out in the snow? Bwaaahaaaahaaaaa haaaaaa!
  3. Spot on!
  4. Silly goose, that’s how I get my energy for typing  blogs and recipes.

In all honesty, though, without the phone calls, emails, letters, and comments that come through from enthusiastic bakers all around the world, it would be much harder to keep the creative juices bubbling when it comes to food. I consider myself so lucky to be able to talk, learn, and share so much about food every day. If you see me answer your blog comment with “thanks for sharing,” know that I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

In fact, I keep a little black notebook near my left hand and every time I see a great food idea, I add it in. Each blog planning meeting my notebook and I show up full of new ideas. Blogs for Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Banana Cream Cheese Roll, Asian Dumplings, and so many more had their origins in that little black book.

I’m not sure where or when the conversation about Anadama bread took place, but I do remember thinking “Wow! It’s been ages since I’ve made that!” I can remember, too, when I made a loaf nearly every week, to be toasted and devoured with butter and strawberry jam. So, I send out a universal thanks to whoever sent me the nudge, because Anadama bread is back in our lives and I couldn’t be happier.

Come, learn to make New England Anadama Bread with me, and then we can both share.

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In the bowl of your mixer, whisk together:

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup dark molasses (spritz the measuring cup with cooking spray to help the molasses slide right out)

Over this, pour 1 cup boiling water. As you can see, I like to use the hook to manually mix everything together. Saves me washing a spoon.

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To make sure I get all of the molasses out of my measuring cup,  I usually scoop up some of the hot liquid and swirl it in the cup, then pour it back into the bowl. Making fun squiggles is just a bonus.

Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm.

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To the cooled and fragrant liquid, add:

1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup King Arthur Premium or King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

Mix on low until a shaggy ball starts to form, and then knead for about 6 to 7 minutes. The dough will be stiffer than regular bread dough, but should still feel moist to the touch.

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BUT WAIT! What if you get through your kneading stage and the dough, despite your best efforts, still seems too dense and heavy? Do you really need to toss it out and start again? Is there any hope at all?

Check out the cracks and fissures in my dough, a sure indication that my dough is too dry. If I let it go like this, it won’t rise very well (think about blowing up a dry balloon, not so easy)  and my resulting bread will be crumbly and heavy.

This dough can absolutely be saved, and quite easily too. But I have to tell you, the pictures are a bit, well, thought provoking? Laughter inducing? Just plain weird?

OK, I’ve warned you, so take a look.

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Dear God! Yes, I KNOW what it looks like. Believe me, I’ve tried to make it look like something else, really I’ve tried, but some things just can’t be polished.

What is it really? It’s the saving grace for dry dough. First, you want to take a bench knife or chef’s knife and chop the dough up into walnut-sized pieces. No need to be precise, you just want to disassemble what you’ve assembled.

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Next, place the pieces back in the bowl with 2 to 4 tablespoons of water, depending on how dry your dough seems. Mix on low speed to start. It will be a slippery, wet mess at first, but give it time and the dough will begin to absorb the extra water and will smooth out again.

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And before long, your dough has been rescued from a dense, dry fate. Smooth and supple again, it’ll have a slight tackiness and good elasticity.

Cover well and set the dough aside to rise for about an hour. It will look round and puffy.

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Gently de-gas the dough and press out any large air bubbles. Shape into a log and place in a well greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan; or, for a more rustic round shape, into a boule placed in a 3- to 4-quart Dutch oven.

Cover and let rise another 80 to 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.

By the way, for those of you who have trouble with heavy pans like me, check out our new line of cast aluminum pans. All the benefits of cast iron, but so much lighter!

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for about 35 to 40 minutes. A digital thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf will read around 200°F when the bread is done.

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Serve your bread warm with butter and honey, as a side dish to stew or soup. It also makes incredible toast. Crisp, with the flavors of cornbread, but far less fragile. Paired with a bowl of baked beans, it’s a New England breakfast that can’t be beat.

So, now I need to cross off an entry in my little black book once again. Keep those ideas, comments, questions, and memories coming;, I’ve still got pages and pages to fill!

Please make, rate, and review our recipe for New England Anadama Bread. (And find out about the funny name, too.)

Print just the recipe.

 

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Jean

    I love reading your blog. The recipes are great but it’s your way with words that make me actually stop and read the whole entry, not just scroll down to the nuts and bolts of ingredients and technique. I hope you’re writing a novel. I can’t wait to read it!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      Thanks Jean! I do a lot of novel writing in my head, when I can’t get to sleep at night, but I’m not ready to put anything on paper yet. I’d love to write a blog as a short story mystery some day. What do you think? ~ MJ

  2. Paul from Ohio

    Yum Yum – was looking for a new bread! The photo shows MILK being added to bring the dough back together, the words say you used “water”?

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      It actually is water, but when you mix it with the dough, it turns cloudy. I’ve never noticed before how much it looks like milk. :) ~ MJ

    1. Don the baker

      Having come from Cape Ann I had never heard the gravestone story. From my memories the bread was always made in a loaf pan. Doesn’t matter I guess, all I know that when made correctly it is absolutely the best toasting bread in the world-slathered with lots of butter-of course.

  3. Ann

    Two thoughts:
    1. My mom’s Betty Crocker recipe book told a story of how the bread got its name, frustrated old fisherman and his supposedly lazy wife: “Anna, damn her!”
    2. Ever tried this with KAF gluten-free all purpose flour? This looks like yummy bread!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Thanks for sharing, Ann. No, haven’t tried making this recipe GF – but if you do, please let us all know how it goes, OK? PJH

  4. Toni Rowe

    Looking forward to giving this recipe a try. I use a recipe from one of the original anadama bakers here in Rockport, MA. It doesn’t have milk in it, but always like to try different variations. It’s definitely a favorite around here!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Absolutely an old-time New England favorite, Toni. And, as with any favorite – lots of variations. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one. PJH

  5. Bob Crosby

    Your explanation of the bread’s name is new to me. I always tell people about the fisherman getting tired of the same old, same old porridge every night or the epitaph on Anna’s headstone. Whenever I am in Maine, I always bake this bread. It’s quite common at bakeries in Washington County. Nothing finer.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      You’re right, Bob – this is a staple in Maine. You ever been to Helen’s in Machias? Bet they sell it there… :) PJH

  6. Jane Webber

    I have an abundant amount of whole wheat flour. Can I use it in this recipe in place of the white whole wheat?

    Thanks for your help!
    Jane

    Reply
  7. Louise

    My mother used to make Anadama bread. I don’t have her recipe, and have been thinking about it recently, and now, here’s your wonderful blog. She made hers in a loaf pan, but I’ll try the boule. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Louise, glad we could potentially help you re-create your mom’s bread. Baking is such a wonderful way to carry traditions through generations. Enjoy! PJH

  8. Margy

    You must be mind readers! I was looking at the 2 bags of cornmeal I have in the freezer and wondering where I could find a yeast bread recipe in which to use it. I keep a spray bottle of water handy when I make yeast bread. If the dough looks too dry I spray water on it until it’s the consistency I want. The spray bottle seems to distribute the water more evenly with no wet spots.

    Reply
    1. Erin R.

      I always do this, too! The spray bottle is the easiest way for me to get my dough to the correct hydration level. I just stop the mixer, poke the dough and then go from there as needed. High five! Though the chopped up pile of…dough nuggets (grin) is a fantastic rescue, too. Something I never would have thought of.

    2. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      I’ve used the spray bottle with pie crust, but not with bread dough. I think I have a new technique to work in to my bag of tricks. ~ MJ

  9. Bob Crosby

    You asked if I’d been to Helen’s Restaurant in Machias, ME and had Anadama Bread there. I am a frequent patron of Helen’s. I can’t resist those pies! I’ve never had Anadama Bread there, however. I buy it at a flower shop in Machias! Parlin’s Flowers. Their bakery is excellent.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      HA, love it, Bob – bread in a flower shop! Nice to hear Machias has a good bakery – that’s important. We used to drive up there quite a lot, when we lived in the Midcoast – tip your hat to Dennysville, et. al. for me next time you’re up that way… PJH

  10. Bob Crosby

    I forgot to ask why you chose to bake it in a Dutch Oven with a cross in the top. It’s attractive, but I am used to seeing it as two hunks of dough side by side in the 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan. You can use one and freeze the other, if you wish.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I am not sure why MJ decide to use the crock but it allows for a different presentation. Elisabeth@KAF

  11. Jane Kane

    When you say knead the dough for 6 or 7 minutes, is that by hand or in the mixer? (Please, please let it be the mixer!)

    Jane

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes, that is in the stand mixer. By hand, add another 3-4 minutes. Enjoy! Elisabeth@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel

      Buffy, your pizza dough will be soft and chewy and taste like molasses and cornmeal, but sure, have at it – PJH

  12. Joan Meiman

    Re:Dr. Bill Davis, Cardiologist. http://www.wheatbelly.com/ Can you comment on his contention that wheat was hybridized in 1940 s which created proteins in wheat which are hazardous to our health. I believe that in your recent website on Red and White Wheat flours, you mentioned that no tampering has occurred with wheat flours. Dr. Davis recommends diabetics eliminate it from their diets to improve blood glucose levels and respectable weight loss. A health and wellness column by Stacie Meyer, StacieSpeaking@gmailcom reveals that she lost 11 lbs.by cutting our wheat and lowering her intake of sugar. Puffiness in areas of her body disappeared. I realize I am on shaky ground discussing this with a Flour Company.
    Ms. P J Hamel, but I wondered if you would be willing to offer your opinion. I love to bake and for years I have mixed the red and white wheat flours with all purpose flour for healthier eating. Like many, I do not like the flavour of pure red wheat goods.
    If I have missed a previous discussion on this subject, please forgive my re-introduction. I enjoy reading other people’s comments and your blogs. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Joan, always happy to answer questions. I actually didn’t comment in my post about hybridization; I did say that whole wheat is 100% of the wheat berry: nothing added, nothing taken away, and maybe that’s where you inferred I was referring to hybridization. Wheat has been hybridizing itself naturally for millennia; and scientists have created hybrids as well, as they have with most of our crops and livestock. Remember hybridization is different than genetic modification (GMO); wheat in this country is hybridized, but not genetically modified.

      We’ve researched Dr. Davis’ information quite thoroughly, reading research from cereal scientists and other experts in the field, and at the end of the day, all I can say is we simply don’t believe much of what he says. There are many who feel the same way. Personally, I think people who lose weight and feel better because they cut out wheat actually lose weight and feel better because they cut out a lot of calories, as well as the sugar, fat, artificial ingredients, preservatives, and a lot of the other not-so-good stuff wheat is paired with in prepared foods (e.g., purchased bread, cookies, cake, etc.)

      I hope this helps. I know I’m going to continue to bake with both all-purpose and whole wheat flours, and hope you feel the same. Take care – PJH

  13. gigi

    Thanks so much for this posting – I really appreciate you willingness to share your mistakes. Now I know that dry dough can be salvaged. I happen to be making stew today – so I’m going to try out this recipe,

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Jeanne, stick the thermometer right into the center of the bread (imagine the center of the Earth), either from the side or from the top; that should do it. PJH

  14. Barbara Grella

    PJ, I just read the discussion about the Wheat Belly author between you and a reader. I too was taken aback by his information. I believe that when people start baking their own bread and just eating non packaged food is where the weight loss comes in. I know when I read his book I was crushed and decided to just zone in on just what I was eating and have eliminated just about all packaged food from our home. We also are eating full fat yogurt and milk and actually are eating less of everything as I believe the low fat food makes you eat more. Love your blog and will continue to bake. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Good to hear, Barbara – so often we tend to latch onto the “silver bullet” answer when it comes to health and nutrition, and in the long run, I truly believe it’s “calories in, calories out” – eat less, exercise more, AND focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lower-fat protein. Sure, enjoy cake, cookies, brownies, etc. – but as a treat, not a multiple-times-a-day option. Thanks for connecting here, and for your kind words. PJH

  15. Joan Meiman

    Thank you for your clear reply re. my previous question about Wheat Belly.
    Does using partial White Wheat flour and partial All Purpose Flour respond to yeast rising. Or is there a better rise with solely APF?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      The rise with 100% AP flour is just slightly better, Joan; but I’m willing to trade the tiny reduction in rise for the health benefits of white whole wheat. PJH

  16. Juli Nimitz

    The concern over “Wheat Belly” has compelled me to comment on the general idea of one food being “bad”. First off, I am not a genetic scientist, however, I am a Chemical Engineer who was one of the people designing the physical plant that produces that.

    What I wanted to say is that no one food is horrible, no one additive is horrible. It all depends on your personal make-up. I am a big believer in keeping things as natural as possible, because your body recognizes butter, veggies, etc. but also they give you satisfaction so you don’t overeat. In my own family of origin there is horrible obesity, like the biggest of the Biggest Loser contestants, yet I am thin and fit even at 56. I eat butter, sugar and baked goodies (most recipes are from this website) and yet I don’t gain an ounce. I have the same genetic makeup, yet I’m super healthy. The secret is two things: moderation and FIBER, which fills you up and you don’t have to eat the whole thing.

    If you’re not getting enough FIBER, just get the Hi-Maize and add some to your recipe. That’s what I do with all my breads, pancakes, muffins,etc. I love whole grains, but if the recipe isn’t whole grain, I “fix” it with the Hi-Maize. I bake almost everything at home, mainly because homemade tastes so much better. Secondly, those preservatives are not found in nature.

    I have about 85% of a good diet and some goodies thrown in, like bread, why worry about a single ingredient? I also have a trainer, although I am not a gym rat, I just make sure that I am active somehow at least 4 days per week. My trainer, however, does not advocate a strict diet. He just says if you eat healthfully most days, like 5 out of 7, you are fine on the rest.

    I know I sound like a commercial, and I didn’t mean to. Also, I am not employed by KAF. I’m just saying what is working for me and my husband, and we’re both really healthy and we both eat wheat.

    Keep baking ….

    Juli

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Juli, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here. It sounds like you’re taking a very sensible approach to diet and health, and obviously you’re happy with the results. Exercise and moderate intake of calories (yes, the fiber definitely helps) is a common-sense approach to weight control, and has been for decades. Keep the Hi-maize handy, and happy baking! :) PJH

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