So the other day I had a cooking show on in the background, and my ears perked up when I heard mention of anadama bread. Anadama Bread? Hmmmmm… something unfamiliar and bread. As I’m partial to both of those things, I decided to investigate.
Consulting my oracle, I found that Anadama Bread was introduced in New England in the early-mid 1800s. The origin of its unusual name is uncertain, but the main ingredients are wheat flour, cornmeal and molasses. Being a big fan of molasses, I was compelled to give this bread a try.
My first attempt yielded a goopy dough (that’s a technical baker’s term, right?). In this batch, I used medium coarse cornmeal because that’s what I had on hand. Though not impossible to handle the resulting dough, it was messy.
Despite the goopy dough, the texture and flavor of the final product was unique and I felt delicious. Besides the nature of the dough, my issue was that my loaves didn’t rise to picture perfect loftiness. I attribute this to my lack of patience during the final proofing (though I did wait the prescribed period before baking and they did double in size during this period). They just didn’t rise much further during baking.
So not to be discouraged by goopy dough and squatty loaves, I tried again this time using regular grind cornmeal. This alteration yielded a sticky rather than goopy dough which was easier to handle but still not in line with my expectation. And once again the loaves didn’t achieve the loftiness that I pictured in my mind’s eye.
Never the less, the bite was delicious and honestly, I didn’t really notice a much of a textural difference between the first two batches (medium vs fine grind on the meal). The loaves from the first two attempts have a soft crumb and slightly chewy crust. Still, I really did want a dough that was easier to handle – not goopy or sticky.
On attempt number three, I reduced the amount of water by a half cup. It worked. The dough was definitely more in line with my expectations of how bread dough should behave.
It doubled nicely and I was able to handle it with ease.
Since I was already four loaves into this experiment, and because I was able to handle this dough, without leaving a significant portion of it on my hands, I decided to switch things up with this third batch and do an east meets west mash up.
A bread hailing from New England mixed with Pacific Northwest hazelnuts. Also since the dough was manageable this time around, it was perfect for a boule.
At this juncture, it is time for a confusion… I don’t always read as carefully as I should. It turns out that the recipe I was using calls for coarse cornmeal!
I see another batch in my future, and the next time, I’ll use the recommended coarse cornmeal and the reduced amount of water and see what transpires. In the meantime, we’ve got a lot of delicious anadama bread in the freezer! 🙂
Anadama is a hearty bread that is great for sandwiches, and I’m very much looking forward to using of it for blue cheese croutons to accompany a bowl of Beef Barley Butternut Squash Stew!
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