Recently, I was introduced to anadama bread, which is apparently indigenous to this area (well, coastal Massachusetts, which is only a few miles away). The 'true' story of this bread's origin goes a little like this:
Many years ago, there was a (farmer/fisherman) who had a (lazy/industrious) wife named Anna who was an (horrible/excellent) cook. One day he came home to find that she had cooked (yet another dinner of corn meal mush/a wonderful bread with cornmeal and molasses). So (disgusted/overcome) was he, that he (threw together the mush with some molasses and flour to make some/sat down and savored a slice of her) bread and muttered, "Anna, damn her."
I, of course, believe every word of it. And since I have a surfeit of flour, I decided to make some. Here's the recipe:
- 2½ cups water
- ½ cup cornmeal (The recipe I found said "course" [sic] cornmeal, but our supermarket had slim pickin's in the cornmeal dept., so I used a finer grind and it still worked wonderfully)
- ½ cup unsulphured molasses (or "moles' asses", as I usually call it)
- 1tsp. salt
- 2Tbsp. butter, preferably unsalted
- 1 packet yeast (2½ tsp. if you have a jar of it like I do)
- 5-6 cups of flour (I, of course, used whole grain spelt flour, but plain ol' boring white flour is fine, too)
Boil the water and stir in the cornmeal. Turn down to low heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for up to an hour (I did maybe 20-30 minutes). Remove from heat and add the molasses, salt and butter. Allow to cool to lukewarm and add the yeast, stirring it in well. Allow the yeast to proof for about 10 minutes - this brings it out of dormancy and allows you to see if it's still viable, as the mix should start rising. Stir in about 4½ cups of the flour and turn the dough out onto a well-floured board to begin kneading and incorporating the remaining flour.
Kneading bread dough is very important, as this is what starts to get the gluten molecules crosslinking, which is what makes yeast breads chewy and not cake-like. The No-Knead Bread avoids the kneading step by letting the dough sit and ferment for nearly 24 hours, but for traditional recipes, the dough needs to be kneaded for about 10 minutes, until it pretty much stops sticking to your hand and looks kind of like this:
Once the kneading is done, place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and coat the dough with the oil. Cover it and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk (an hour or so, depending on the temperature). Punch the dough down well, divide and shape into two loaves, and place in two greased bread pans. Cover again and allow these to rise until again doubled, like so:
While the dough is going through the second rise, preheat the oven to 400ºF (204ºC). When the dough is ready, bake it until the loaves sound hollow when thumped - about 25-30 minutes. Turn them out of the pans while hot, and you should have something that looks a bit like this:
We had thick slices, warm and buttered, with a salad and quiche for dinner.