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Anadama bread | Hearty, rustic, and delicious

Anadama bread

Anadama bread is a traditional yeast bread of New England in the United States made with wheat flour, cornmeal, molasses and sometimes rye flour.

Type Bread
Place of origin United States
Region or state New England
Main ingredients Wheat flour (sometimes rye flour), cornmeal, molasses

Origin in coastal New England of Anadama bread

Much folklore exists about the origin of the recipe for Anadama bread and it is not readily agreed upon exactly when or where the bread originated. It is commonly believed to have existed before 1850[citation needed] in areas of Maine and Massachusetts in coastal New England. The recipe may have been adapted from that of early American brown bread, as described in the 1832 cookbook by Lydia Maria Child, The American Frugal Housewife.[1] It is thought to have come from the local fishing community,[2][3] but it may have come through the Finnish community of local stonecutters.

A popular folkloric account regarding the origin of the word “Anadama” tells the story of a fisherman becoming tired of meals of corn meal and molasses mush. Upset with his wife, Anna, for serving him nothing else, one day adds flour and yeast to his porridge, baking the resultant bread, while cursing, “Anna, d*** her!”

Near the turn of the 20th century, it was commercially baked by a man called Baker Knowlton of King Street in Rockport, Massachusetts, and delivered in a horse-drawn cart to households by men in blue smocks. In the 1940s, a Rockport restaurant owned by Bill and Melissa Smith called The Blacksmith Shop on Mount Pleasant Street started baking the bread for their restaurant in a small bakery on Main St. They baked about 80 loaves a day until 1956, when they built a modern $250,000 bakery on Pooles Lane. They had 70 employees and 40 trucks which delivered Anadama bread all over New England.

The Anadama bread center of consumption was in Rockport and next-door Gloucester, Massachusetts. It was commercially available from local bakeries widely on Cape Ann from the early 1900s until 1970, when the Anadama Bread Bakery on Pooles Lane in Rockport closed due to Bill Smith’s death. For a number of years, it was baked by small local bakeries at breakfast places on Cape Ann.

Anadama bread Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3 tablespoons butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 (7g) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour

Method of making Anadama bread

  • Add the cornmeal and boiling water to a bowl:

    Place the cornmeal in a large bowl. Boil the two cups of water and pour the hot water into the cornmeal, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Let sit for 30 minutes.

    Add the molasses, salt and butter to cornmeal mixture:

    Add the molasses, salt and butter and stir to combine. The cornmeal water should still be warm enough to melt the room temperature butter.

  • Activate the yeast:

    Put 1/2 cup of warm water (slightly warmer than body temperature) into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let sit for a few minutes. Then stir it to gently combine. Let sit for another 5 minutes.

  • Combine the yeast and cornmeal mixtures, then add the flour:

    Add the yeast and the water to the bowl with the cornmeal and everything else, and mix to combine. Add the bread flour, a cup at a time, stirring after each addition. You will end up with something of a gloopy mess.

  • Pour the dough into loaf pans and let rise:

    Butter a couple of 5- x 9-inch loaf pans. Spoon the dough mixture into the pans as best you can; it’ll be sticky. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for several hours, until it doubles in size.

  • Preheat the oven:

    Preheat the oven to 350°F .

  • Bake:

    Bake the breads for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a skewer or knife blade comes out clean. Let the loaves cool for a few minutes, then turn them out onto racks to continue cooling.

Why is it called Anadama bread?

It seems Anna wasn’t blessed with talent in the kitchen, and after numerous bowls of molasses and cornmeal porridge for supper, the fisherman angrily tossed in some flour and yeast one evening and threw the mixture into the oven. While it baked he sat muttering, “Anna, Damn her!”, and the name was born
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