Anadama Bread (adapted from the NY Times)

My last bread attempt was a whole wheat anadama bread recipe from Craig Claiborne’s 1961 NY Times cookbook, modified by using honey instead of molasses. It was delicious, but denser than I’d like due to a poor rise, and with too thick and hard a crust.

This time, I made a more traditional anadama bread using white flour and molasses, modifying a recipe from the NY Times for the food processor.  The result  – a soft, moist, slightly chewy, not quite spongy textured bread with a nice crust. The flavor was lovely, although I think I prefer the nutty sweetness of my whole wheat version.

Using white flour instead of whole wheat definitely gave a better rise, though the rise did not entirely hold up during the baking. The original recipe is made in a mixing bowl with a dough hook, and calls for mixing for 7 minutes till it pulls away from the sides – that may be the kneading-substitute. I made mine in the food processor, taking it out to a floured board much sooner than 7 minutes when it became clear that if I continued, I’d wear out the food processor motor, and kneaded for about 2-3 minutes. I suspect this may not have been enough kneading, and thus I did not get optimum gluten formation. It could also be the 2,000 foot altitude here in the Endless Mountain – high altitudes can cause too fast a rise with poor structure. However, given my poor rises here in the past, I suspect its the gluten and not the altitude, since we are just not that high up. (Although your ears do pop on the way up and down the mountain…)

Anadama Bread (adapted from the NY Times)

The original recipe adds nutmeg, which for some odd reason I did not have.

1/2 cup cornmeal
water as directed below
1/2 cup molasses
6 tbsp butter, softened
1 – 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Oil for greasing.

1. In a bowl, stir together the cornmeal and 1 cup water. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring another cup of water to a boil. Add cornmeal mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in the molasses and 2 tablespoons butter. Cool till tepid and transfer mixture to food processor.

2. Whisk the salt into the flour in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir together the yeast and 1/2 cup water until yeast has dissolved, add to cornmeal and pulse for a second. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, pulsing for several seconds after each addition. Process until dough starts to pull away from sides of bowl, or in my case, until the processor starts to sound like it’s going to wear out, then turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead it for a few minutes, adding more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. (I ended up adding about another 1/2 – 3/4 cup flour)

3. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

4. Lightly grease 2 9-by-4-inch loaf pans. Press down dough and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Fold each piece loosely into a loaf and place each in a pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until loaves have doubled in size.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until bread is a dark golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

6. Allow bread to cool in pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire cooling rack.

Yield: 2 9-by-4-inch loaves.

5 Responses to Anadama Bread (adapted from the NY Times)

  1. I’ve been baking bread for quite some time and Anadama is one of my favorites, although I’m a molasses fan – I find it less sweet and more complex in flavor than honey. Try using half white and half whole wheat flour. You’ll get a more tender loaf with more flavor. In fact, you can substitute half whole wheat flour in pretty much any recipe you want.

    Any time you make a bread recipe with 100% whole wheat flour, add a tablespoon or two of vital wheat gluten (available at health food stores and some supermarkets), it’ll help the rise a lot.

    One last tip: try substituting buttermilk for milk in bread and/or muffin recipes. It’s lower in fat and gives a very nice crumb. Don’t scald it, though.

  2. My favorite bread recipe right now is a variation on Tuscan bread-gets a great texture and out of this world crust. The key is the slow rise-I start it usually on Thursday evening after I get home from OR, just toss yeast and some water in with whole and white wheat flour, cover and trek to my basement (cool). Friday night I add some warm water and more flour (sometimes also semolina for texture). Saturday am before gym, more water, more flour but now I knead it-does take about 10 minutes but worth it. Back into bowl, this time for warm rise then shape and bake on stone.
    Crust crisping by spraying water into very hot over (I use kind a hairdresser might use to wet your hair!) 3-4 times during first 5 minutes of baking.
    Yum!

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