Sunday, 22 September 2013

Anadama Bread

After a little hiatus, that involved holidays with little to no internet access, time spent with Anjalie & family and starting new project at work and the stress that comes with it, I am back with more yummy recipes that is now approved by Anjalie (who is turning 4 this December- where did the time go!) and the rest of the family. It has been a while (2 months!) since I experimented with bread. So here it is- Anadama bread. This one uses corn meal/polenta and is traditional bread from New England. What attracted me to try this was the story of it's origin and the use of molasses as a sweetener instead of sugar. First the story- like many old recipes there are many, but, here is my favourite one- there once was a fisherman who lived in New England with his wife. All she ever fed him was polenta/cornmeal porridge sweetened with molasses. Eventually, he got tired of it and made bread with the porridge by adding bread flour, all the while saying, "Anna, damn her!" which became Anadama bread :)

I also like the fact that the bread is sweet enough, but, not overly sweet. Just the way we all love it here. It has a lovely rich colour, aroma and flavour due to molasses. Sugar as a sweetener is so boring, IMHO. There are many variations to both the origin story and the recipe. Some even add more butter and cinnamon & other spices to it. Here I give the simple recipe for bread machine. As always you can play around with additional ingredients and also adapt to hand knead and bake in the regular oven at 180 degrees for 30-45 mins until it sounds hollow when you thump the loaf on the bottom.

Last, but not least, this bread tastes better when served warm or toasted. It goes well with tea/coffee (due to the sweet taste and flavour of molasses). Anadama bread also freezes well. The recipe here is for a small loaf. Feel free to make more than one loaf and freeze for future use. Usually, Anadama bread is made with polenta. To make polenta cook cornmeal in boiling water and/or milk with a pinch of salt and a dab of butter. I used cornmeal directly have got fantastic results. I have also used left over polenta earlier. So go for whatever works for you. Without further ado, here is the recipe

You will need:
1 lukewarm cup water (plus 1/2-1 tbsp if the weather is too dry)
3 tbsp molasses (I used sugar cane derived one)
1 tsp lemon juice
2.5 cups  unbleached white bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat bread flour
1/3 cup polenta/cornmeal
1.5 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp dried milk powder (optional)
1 tsp rapid raise yeast (suitable for bread machine)

Pour the wet ingredients (including molasses) in the bread pan. If your bread machine instructions say to start with yeast then reverse the order given here. Sprinkle the flour, followed by polenta, so that the water is fully covered. Add salt, butter and milk in separate corners of the pan. Place the yeast in the middle in a small indentation. Set the bread machine to basic/normal setting with medium crust. Make sure to check that the dough is moist after a couple of mins of kneading. If not add 1/2 to 1 tbsp of water. I have found that for bread recipes that use molasses I have to scrape down the sides of the pan with a flexible spatula during kneading cycle to avoid the deposits of flour on the bread.

When the bread is finished baking, cool it on a wire rack for at least 20-30 mins before cutting. Hope you enjoy yours soon!

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