Anadama Bread

BakingNew EnglandBreadMolasses

Traditional New England Anandama bread, a dark yeast bread made with flour, cornmeal, and molasses.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Have you ever had Anadama bread? It’s a traditional dark yeast bread from New England. Please welcome Hank Shaw as he shares the recipe for this delicious loaf he made for us the other day. ~Elise

My mum was never much of a baker, but she used to tell us about a bread she loved back at home on the North Shore of Massachusetts called, oddly, anadama bread.

Apparently the old tale is that Anna was a fisherman’s wife who fed her beau little more than cornmeal porridge sweetened with molasses. One day, so the story goes, the fisherman came home, added some flour and yeast to the mush and tossed it in the oven to make bread – all the while muttering, “Anna, damn her!”

Anadama Bread

Obviously this is an apocryphal story, but the bread – based on cornmeal and molasses – dates back to Cape Ann, Massachusetts, in the early part of the 20th century.

It is a dense, dark bread, a little sweet from the molasses, and it is very, very good with butter and cinnamon. Serve it hot, and then later as toast.

Anadama bread also freezes well, which is why this recipe makes two loaves. We’ve read dozens of recipes for anadama bread and decided to base ours off the venerable one in the Fanny Farmer cookbook, which is more than a century old.

Anadama Bread Recipe

  • Prep time: 40 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 2 loaves

The dough is very sticky and is not kneadable; just spoon it into the loaf pans. It will also take some time to rise properly – sometimes 3-4 hours. Just give it time, it’ll rise.


  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3 Tbsp butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour


1 Place the cornmeal in a large bowl. Boil the two cups of water and pour the hot water into the cornmeal, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Let sit for 30 minutes.

2 Add the molasses, salt and butter and stir to combine. The cornmeal water should still be warm enough to melt the room temperature butter.

3 Put 1/2 cup of warm water (slightly warmer than body temperature) into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let sit for a few minutes. Then stir it to gently combine. Let sit for another 5 minutes.

4 Add the yeast and the water to the bowl with the cornmeal and everything else, and mix to combine. Add the bread flour, a cup at a time, stirring after each addition. You will end up with something of a gloopy mess.

5 Butter a couple of 5x9 loaf pans. Spoon the dough mixture into the pans as best you can; it’ll be sticky. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for several hours, until it doubles in size.

6 Heat the oven to 350°F and bake the breads for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer or knife blade comes out clean. Let the loaves cool for a few minutes, then turn them out onto racks to continue cooling.

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Hank Shaw

A former restaurant cook and journalist, Hank Shaw is the author of three wild game cookbooks as well as the James Beard Award-winning wild foods website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His latest cookbook is Buck, Buck, Moose, a guide to working with venison. He hunts, fishes, forages and cooks near Sacramento, CA.

More from Hank

30 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Abigail

    My grandma always used to serve us brown bread buttered with a slice of cheese on it for a snack when we visited. :)

  2. Cat

    I love this recipe and have been making it for years. Today I varied the flours: 2 cups whole wheat, 1 cup blue corn flour, 1 1/2 cups white flour. This was an excellent variation.


  3. AJ

    I started making anadama bread as a child in the late ’60’s for my grandfather, a Quaker farmer. This is closest to the old Betty Crocker recipe I have seen, however this version is missing the kneading and second rising. Add enough flour to knead, form ball, 1st rising is in a bowl, punch down & use enough unbleached flour to shape to fit bread pans, allow 2nd rising in bread pans, then bake. I’m sure you get a different texture without kneading & the second rising, but I rather like it with a finer texture, and drier. Most new England recipes add milk, I like it better with water, like the “Beard on Bread” recipe my husband uses. When making for my vegan friends I use a nonhydrogenated vegetable oil.

  4. carol

    I made this bread this morning, was real disapponted…….my bread fell. Ive been baking bread for years, I personally think there is way too much liquid in this recipe. In the future I’ll look for a better recipe :-(

  5. Vicky

    Mmm bread. I am placing this recipe on my list of early spring recipes to bake. Being a New Englander I have heard of this bread and seem to remember hearing the story too. I also remember those cans of b&m brown bread, they were good though a bit on the moist side. A family member makes a similar homemade bread with raisins baked in a can and calls it hobo bread. Beans & brown bread yummy.

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