We sure hope you all had as lovely of a Thanksgiving as we did. We are certainly thankful for all that we have been blessed with: great kids, great family & friends, a new home, plenty of food, gainful employment, and the list goes on.
We hosted Thanksgiving this year- just a small little gathering. Though small, it still is a lot of work to put together! Wanting to make at least one dish with a Dutch oven, Matt did a search for a bread recipe wanting something new to us and "fall-like". He went with Anadama Bread, a sweet yeasted bread made with molasses and cornmeal.
There are lots of stories/legends about how Anadama Bread came into existence and how it got its funny name ("Anna, damn her!"). I won't bore you with a history lesson that I'm not even sure is wholly or partially true.
Though its not clear how it got its name, it is pretty clear that it originates, locationally, from the North East, specifically Massachusetts. After college, we lived in Connecticut for a while and ever since that time, we've got a soft spot for anything "colonial."
What a great bread to serve at Thanksgiving! The molasses flavor is prominent enough that it felt like it was a special bread for a holiday, and the cornmeal gave it a really nice texture. We struggled a little bit to get the bread raising, but once it got going it was fine. (We ended up rinsing the Dutch oven in VERY hot water- our water heater should be turned down, somebody's gonna get burned. Then we placed the bread in the warm, buttered D.O.)
10" Dutch Oven (it might have been better in a taller D.O. as the top of our bread got a touch too brown)
16 coals on top, 7 on bottom (part-way through, we removed about 1/2 from the top and put underneath as the top crust was getting too brown)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup molasses
1 .25 oz package active dry yeast (or if using bulk, 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup warm water (110° or so)
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
In a saucepan, bring water and cornmeal to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter and molasses. Allow to cool to lukewarm. In a small bowl or cup, dissolve yeast in the warm water. Let sit for about 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes is up, combine the molasses mixture and the yeast. Add 2 cups of the flour and the salt. Mix well. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time. Knead the dough, adding flour only to prevent sticking, until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes).
Place in an oiled bowl, and cover. Set the bowl someplace warm so the dough can raise until double (about 1 hour). Punch down dough and shape into a round loaf. Warm up your dutch oven, either by placing in near your fire or hot coals or by running under very warm water. Butter the inside and lid of the D.O. and sprinkle a touch of cornmeal on the bottom. Place the loaf inside and cover with the lid. Allow to raise for 30 minutes in a warm, not hot, place. Bake with the coals indicated above for 30-40 minutes.