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How to Make Anadama Bread

Why this recipe works Anadama bread is a New England classic, with two defining ingredients that have a centuries-old association with the region: molasses and cornmeal. We wanted a sandwich loaf that was moist and chewy, sturdy yet tender, faintly bitter yet sweet, and ever so slightly gritty. And we wanted the two star ingredients to have real presence. We found mild and robust varieties of molasses all worked well in this bread, while blackstrap molasses imparted too much bitter flavor. We increased the amount of molasses called for in most recipes until we landed on a full ¼ cup—enough to impart a decidedly bittersweet flavor and a beautiful golden color. We found that ½ cup of cornmeal was necessary to achieve the heartiness and pleasant grit we were after, but that meant cutting down on the flour and therefore the gluten, leaving us with a dense loaf. The fix was surprisingly easy: Adding a bit more yeast than is found in traditional recipes helped keep the texture light. Some recipes call for softening the cornmeal in water before mixing the dough, but we found this step unnecessary. For the liquid, milk made a softer bread but we preferred the heartier chew of the bread made with water. For extra moisture and tenderness, we added butter instead of oil for the fat, as this seemed truer to the bread’s colonial past. Do not use coarse-ground cornmeal. The test kitchen’s preferred loaf pan measures 8½ by 4½ inches; if you use a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, increase the shaped rising time by 20 to 30 minutes and start checking for doneness 10 minutes earlier than advised in the recipe.

  • makes 1 loaf
  • rising time 2 to 3 hours
  • baking time 40 minutes
  • total time 3¾ to 4¾ hours, plus 3 hours cooling time
  • key equipment 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan, water-filled spray bottle, instant-read thermometer

how-to-make-anadama-bread

  • 2¾ cups (13¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (2½ ounces) cornmeal
  • 1½ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) water, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) mild or robust molasses
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1). Whisk flour, cornmeal, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk water, molasses, and melted butter in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until molasses has dissolved.

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2). Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add water mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl, about 8 minutes.

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3). Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.

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4). Grease 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan and dust with cornmeal. Press down on dough to deflate. Turn dough out onto lightly floured counter (side of dough that was against bowl should now be facing up) and press into 8 by 6-inch rectangle, with long side parallel to counter edge.

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5). Roll dough away from you into firm cylinder, keeping roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go. Pinch seam closed and place loaf seam side down in prepared pan, pressing dough gently into corners.

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6). Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until loaf reaches 1 inch above lip of pan and dough springs back minimally when poked gently with your knuckle, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

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7). Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Mist loaf with water and bake until deep golden brown and loaf registers 205 to 210 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.

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8). Let loaf cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and let cool completely on wire rack, about 3 hours, before serving.

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problem The bread tastes bitter.

solution Use the right molasses.

Molasses comes in many varieties, and because the recipe calls for just ¼ cup it’s tempting to use whatever you have on hand. Happily, we found in our testing that the bread turns out nicely with both mild and robust, or full, molasses varieties. However, blackstrap molasses will not work in this recipe. Good for gingerbread, this strong sweetener will result in a bitter, burnt-tasting bread.

problem The loaf is too dense.

solution Use the right cornmeal.

This loaf packs in ½ cup of cornmeal for the right hearty texture and grit. Both fine and stoneground yellow cornmeal work well. However, coarse-ground cornmeal, though flavorful, will throw off the delicate balance of ingredients, yielding a loaf that is too heavy and gritty.

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