The Anadama Cornbread Recipe is a dark, sweet cornbread originally hails from New England. It is curiously sweet and savory at the same time, and keeps very well.
Rising and proofing time:
1⁄2 cup milk
1⁄2 cup polenta or fine yellow cornmeal
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1⁄2 cup molasses
2 tsp dried yeast
2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
vegetable oil, for greasing
1 egg, beaten, for glazing
1 Heat 1⁄2 cup water and the milk in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the polenta.
2 Cook for a minute or two until it thickens, then remove from the heat. Add the butter and stir until it is well mixed. Beat in the molasses, then set aside to cool.
3 Dissolve the yeast in 1⁄3 cup warm water and stir well. Put the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well. Gradually stir in the polenta mixture, then add the yeast
mixture to make a soft, sticky dough.
4 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for about 10 minutes, until soft and elastic. It will remain fairly sticky, but should not stick to your hands.
5 Knead in a little flour if it seems too wet. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and leave to rise in a warm place for up to 2 hours. The dough will not double in size, but should be very soft and pliable when well risen.
6 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knock it back. Knead it briefly and shape it into a flattened oval, tucking the sides underneath the center of the dough to get a tight, even shape.
7 Place on a large baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Leave it to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours. The dough is ready to bake when it is tight and well risen, and a finger gently poked into the dough leaves a dent, which springs back quickly.
8 Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
9 Place one oven rack in the middle of the oven, and one below it, close to the bottom. Bring a small pan of water to a boil. Brush the loaf all over with a little beaten egg, and gently slash the top 2–3 times with a sharp knife diagonally.
10 This will alllow the bread to continue to rise in the oven. Dust the top with a little flour, if desired, and place it on the middle shelf. Place a roasting pan on the bottom shelf, then quickly pour the boiling water into it and shut the door.
11 Bake for 45–50 minutes, until the crust is nicely darkened and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
The bread will keep, well wrapped in paper, in an airtight container for 5 days.
Slashing the loaf allows the bread to continue rising in the oven, as does the steam from the pan of boiling water, which also helps to give the bread a good crust. Anadama tastes wonderful Emmental or Gruyère, or simply buttered and topped with some good ham and a little mustard.