"Anadama bread dates in print to 1915, but is probably somewhat older. If it were not for the frequency of their citation, it would be difficult to believe the story most often cited is of a Gloucester, Massachusetts, fisherman's wife named Anna, who gave her husband nothing but cornmeal and molasses to eat every day. One night the fisherman got so angry, he tossed the ingredients in with some yeast and flour and made a bread in the oven while muttering to himself, "Anna, damn her!" -Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink. Whatever its origin, this a wonderful bread, made even better when toasted and slathered with butter and jam.
½ cup water
¼ cup cornmeal
3 ¼ cups bread flour, plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons table salt
¾ cup milk, warm (110 degrees)
1/3 cup water, warm (110 degrees)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup molasses
1 package rapid-rise yeast (also called instant yeast)
1. Bring 1/2 cup water to boil in small saucepan, slowly whisk in cornmeal. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about 1 minute.
2. Adjust oven rack to low position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Once oven temperature reaches 200 degrees, maintain heat 10 minutes, then turn off oven heat.
3. Mix cornmeal mixture, flour, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Mix milk, warm water, butter, molasses, and yeast in 1-quart Pyrex liquid measuring cup. Turn machine to low and slowly add liquid. When dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is smooth and satiny, stopping machine two or three times to scrape dough from hook if necessary, about 10 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface; knead to form smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.
4. Place dough in very lightly oiled bowl, rubbing dough around bowl to lightly coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 40 to 50 minutes.
5. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and form dough into loaf by gently pressing the dough into a 9x5” rectangle, one inch thick. Next, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn dough seam side up and pinch it closed. Place dough in greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan and press gently so dough touches all four sides of pan.
6. Cover with plastic wrap; set aside in warm spot until dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees, placing an empty loaf pan on bottom rack. Bring 2 cups water to boil.
7. Remove plastic wrap from loaf pan. Place pan in oven, immediately pouring heated water into empty loaf pan; close oven door. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted at angle from short end just above pan rim into center of loaf reads 195 degrees, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove bread from pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.