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Anadama bread is a chewy, sweet, dense, grainy New England treat. The exact origins of the bread are unclear, although the recipe appears to have been developed prior to the 1940s. Along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, many bakeries make Anadama bread which can be eaten fresh and warm or saved to toast and eat later. It makes an excellent base for French toast, and complements a variety of foods as well.
Local mythology in Rockport, Massachusetts, has it that Anadama bread was invented by a fisherman who was tired of his lazy wife's lackluster cooking. Every evening, he would be served a bowl of warm cornmeal and molasses pudding. Craving bread, the fisherman added flour and yeast, muttering “Anna-damn her!” as he did so. The result was Anadama bread, a cornmeal yeast bread with a rich flavor from the added molasses. Anadama bread can also be made with a mixture of whole grain and white flour, or with rye flour, depending on personal taste. Whole grain Anadama bread will be richer and more nutty.
To make Anadama bread, combine four cups of flour with two tablespoons yeast and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Set aside while heating 2 ¾ cups water, ¾ cup molasses, and ¼ cup butter in a thick saucepan. A vegan version of Anadama bread can be made with oil instead of butter. Stir well, removing from the heat when the mixture reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). Mix the flour mixture with the wet ingredients, beating until well combined before adding 1 ¼ cups cornmeal and two additional cups of flour. Keep adding flour until you have made a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes, until elastic. Oil a large bowl and roll the dough in it, covering with a warm damp cloth and setting the dough in a warm place to rise for approximately one hour, until it has doubled in volume. Divide the dough in two, knead it briefly, and let the dough rest for 10 minutes before pressing it into loaf pans. Cover the pans and allow the dough to rise until doubled again, approximately 40 minutes. Slide the pans into a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius) oven, cooking for 35 minutes. When tapped, the bottom of the bread should sound hollow.
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