brown molasses (anadama) bread
Do you remember when bread machines were all the rage? I’m not sure that we had one at home, but my mom’s Uncle Frank had one and always had a fresh loaf waiting for us when we’d arrive for a visit. Back then I would’ve scoffed at the idea of eating anything other than paper-white wonderbread, but somehow I was talked or tricked into trying his brown molasses bread. It was dark and rich with molasses and a little bit sweet. I just couldn’t believe how delicious it was. In fact it was so good that fifteen years later I’m still thinking about it.
Last weekend I happened across a recipe that sounded a lot like my memories of Uncle Frank’s brown bread, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. The process is a little different, as it’s all hand made rather than machine, but I like a little kneading every now and then, so I was up for it.
After a bit of a work out and a few rising sessions the bread was ready to go in the oven. Almost immediately the sweet smell of molasses floated through the kitchen and into the living room. It just couldn’t smell that good and not taste the same.
I pulled the bread out a little earlier than the recipe called for because my oven is crazy and has a mind of it’s own. But I did the tap test and they sounded hollow when i knocked on the crust, so I figured that was a good sign. I let the loaves cool for a good while before actually cutting into them, but even then, they were still warm on the inside, which is one of the great benefits of baking bread at home. I gave my slice a healthy layer of butter and took a bite. Ahhh yes, Uncle Frank would be proud. The bread was full with molasses flavor, just as I remember loving so much. The crust was perfectly crisp providing a nice contrast to the dense, warm interior. This bread is really great for snacking or for toast, times when the flavor of the bread can really shine. It’s good stuff. Thanks to Donalyn for sharing such a great recipe!
makes 2 loaves
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup of cornmeal [whole grain preferably]
2 packets of instant yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups hot water
1/2 cup dark molasses
5 tablespoons melted butter
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, yeast and salt.
In a smaller bowl, combine the water, molasses and butter.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk for about 2 minutes.
Add 2 more cups of flour, 1 cup at a time and mix thoroughly.
Generously flour your kneading surface with 1/4 cup all purpose flour, and begin kneading. When the first 1/4 cup is thoroughly incorporated, add another 1/4, incorporate completely and then another 1/4 cup. (3/4 cups total)
Another 1/4 cup flour and a couple more minutes kneading and it should look a little drier and smoother. Total kneading time is about 6 or 7 minutes.
Oil a bowl and place the dough in it, turning a few time to coat all the surfaces and cover with a piece of plastic wrap or small towel, and place bowl in a fairly warm spot.
After the dough has doubled in size, about an hour-90 minutes, turn the dough back out onto the counter [you can dust it with a bit of flour if you like, but it doesn't usually stick even without] and knead for a couple minutes until you have a nice uniform ball again. Cut it into two equal pieces.
Then shape into loaves. Place the half dough on the counter with the cut side up and form into an elongated oval. Fold the side farthest from you toward yourself and press along the edges to seal. The turn it around and again pull the side farthest from you into the middle and press down. Bring the ends in until the meet in the middle. Using your fingers, kind of pinch all of the edges together and roll gently to smooth it all out. Put in a well greased bread pan and press firmly all over the top to work the dough into an even layer in the pan.
Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter and return loaves to a warm spot and allow to rise until the dough is just above the top of the pan.
Once they’ve risen again you can place them in the oven. Bake at 350º for about 45 minutes, until the top is very brown and the loaves sound hollow when you thump them.
Remove from pans immediately and cool on a rack for as long as you can stand it and then cut into slices to serve.
* Donalyn has a nice visual tutorial that may help you with some of the steps.