if you grew up in northern new england, there’s some chance that you’ve heard of anadama bread. if you didn’t grow up here, the odds drop precipitously. and that’s a shame, because good bread should be available to everyone, regardless of where you live.
there’s a whole mythology to the origin story of anadama bread. while the credibility of the story in general (a fisherman in rockport, MA got sick of his wife serving molasses and cornmeal mush with dinner and threw some flour and yeast into the bowl before baking it, while muttering “anna, damn her!”), is suspect (if only food blogs and instagram had existed back in 1850 – just think of the real time documentation we would have!), what is undeniably true is that this is some seriously yummy bread.
as with any food with a long history, there are a number of slightly different recipes that have emerged over the years. what they have in common is cornmeal and molasses, in addition to the usual flour, yeast, etc. after that, the recipes begin to diverge a bit.
i tried several different existing recipes in my quest to find my favorite anadama bread recipe (a hardship, i assure you) and, in the end, no one will be surprised to learn that i ended up grafting one recipe onto another. just because nutmeg isn’t a traditional ingredient doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea…
the nutmeg came from a recipe that, while delicious, foiled me every time but the very first time that i made it. after several attempts to replicate what must have been beginner’s luck (with an unreliable recipe), i compared the mercurial recipe to a much more solid performer and happily realized that i could just add a pinch of nutmeg to the reliable recipe and end up with some delicious bread that didn’t have a gummy stripe that i took to be an indication of over proofing the dough.
because even though my friends happily ate each of the not-quite-right loaves made with the problem child recipe, i didn’t want to send y’all out in to the world with a temperamental recipe. luckily, the only unreliable thing about this anadma bread now is its origin story.
p.s. – if you’re not sure how to eat this bread/what to do with it, know that anything you can think of will be good. fresh or toasted: both excellent choices. slathered in homemade pecan butter or molasses butter (combine softened butter with a bit of molasses): swoon. used to make a BLT or leftover-turkey-from-thanksgiving sandwich: do it. toasted then topped with almond butter, sliced banana, and a drizzle of molasses: amazing (though, really, i’d probably find pickled herring with a drizzle of molasses to be quite tolerable). toasted and topped with cream cheese (or mascarpone!) and dusted with cinnamon: i bet that would be sublime; try it and let me know. and should you somehow manage to have leftovers, despite all of those ideas, we have banana molasses bread pudding coming on thursday. so on second thought, maybe just plan to make a second loaf?
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