Best Host - Cultural or Historic Series

Congratulations to Chef Walter Staib for receiving his fourth Emmy Award!

Ash Lawn-Highland

Our latest journey brought us to the homestead of James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States!

James Madison's Montpelier

Learn about the feast Chef Staib created during our visit to Montpelier!

A Taste of History

Cooking in historic Pomona Hall!

Anadama (cornmeal molasses) Bread

Anadama Bread

This soft, comfortingly sweet, cornmeal-and-molasses bread has a colorful history. For years, New Englanders have passed down two stories that attempt to explain the meaning of this bread’s unique name. Both revolve around a fishing village household. The first tells of a Gloucester, Massachusetts, fisherman, whose wife, Anna, prepared nothing for him to eat but a bowl of cornmeal and molasses. Desirous of something different to eat, one day he added yeast and flour to his daily gruel, in an attempt to create a tasteful bread. So frustrated was he in this endeavor that he grumbled, “Anna, damn her!”

A similar but more endearing story tells of a sea captain whose wife, Anna, was quite a good baker and renowned for her cornmeal and molasses bread. New England lore suggests that upon her death her gravestone read, “Anna was a lovely bride, but Anna, damn ’er, up and died.”

Makes 2 loaves

  • 2 (1/4-ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (110° to 115°F)
  • 3/4 cup coarse yellow cornmeal, plus extra for coating pan
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 51/2 cups bread flour

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the yeast and the warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until foamy.

Fit the mixer with the dough hook attachment, and beat in the cornmeal, molasses, butter, and salt. Mix in the flour, 1 cup at a time, to make a moderately stiff dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface, and knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic, adding only enough flour to prevent sticking.

Transfer the dough to a large bowl coated with vegetable oil, and turn the dough to coat all surfaces. Cover with a slightly damp towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 to 11/2 hours, until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down. Turn out onto a lightly-floured work surface, and divide it in half. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a large baking pan with butter, and sprinkle with cornmeal.

Shape each half of the dough into a ball. Place the balls, smooth sides up, on the prepared baking pan. Flatten each ball into a 6-inch round loaf. Cover and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes, until almost doubled in size.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until almost doubled in size.

Remove the bread from the baking pans. Serve warm, or cooled and toasted.

36 Responses to Anadama (cornmeal molasses) Bread

  1. Taylor

    I love the show, and would like to find out where to buy the cookware that is being used ( spiders)
    I am purchasing a rolled steel tripod for starters.Any help will be a great help.

  2. Pingback: Anadama Bread for Communion? Really? | Faith in the Ordinary

  3. patricia

    could you send me the recipe for sweet potato biscuits.

    • Sweet Potato & Pecan Biscuits
      From The City Tavern Cookbook: Recipes from the Birthplace of American Cuisine ©2009 by Walter Staib

      In the eighteenth century, sweet potatoes were plentiful in the southern states, and Thomas Jefferson participated as enthusiastically in their cultivation as other farmers. George Washington, in fact, was one of his compatriots in this venture. This root vegetable makes a number of appearances in Jefferson’s collection of recipes and, consequently, inspired this recipe. Sweet potatoes contribute a sweet flavor and light texture to these biscuits and are complemented by the addition of one of this renowned gardener’s other favorite foods, pecans.

      Makes about 2 dozen biscuits
      5 cups all-purpose flour
      1 cup packed light brown sugar
      2 tablespoons baking powder
      11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
      1 teaspoon salt
      1 teaspoon ground ginger
      1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
      1 cup vegetable shortening
      2 cups cooked, mashed, and cooled sweet potato (about 2 large potatoes)
      1 cup heavy cream
      1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
      Preheat the oven to 400°F.

      In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and allspice. Add the shortening, and cut in with a pastry cutter or two knives until crumbly. Stir in the sweet potato. Add the cream and pecans, and stir until just moistened.
      Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface. Roll the dough out to 11/2 inches thick, and cut out biscuits with a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter. Place the biscuits 1 inch apart on ungreased baking pans.
      Set the pans in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm or cool completely on a wire rack.

      Chef’s Note
      The biscuit dough freezes beautifully unbaked. Just layer the dough between wax paper and store for up to 3 months. Defrost the dough and follow the baking directions. It pays to make a double batch of these biscuits and freeze half for later.

      • karen jorstad

        We live in Williamsburg Virginia, and love American history and great food. After visiting The City Tavern for the first time several years ago with our family, my then 12 year old daughter bought two of The City Tavern Cookbooks which Chef Staib signed for her. These are her two most treasured cookbooks. She has prepared Thanksgiving dinner each year with recipes exclusively from these cookbooks. The sweet potato and pecan biscuits are now a family favorite as well as many other wonderful CT recipes. These wonderful cookbooks have given her a love for cooking and she has become an outstanding cook. We can hardly wait for Thanksgiving and to visit The City Tavern again!

      • Catharine Vinson

        We have a small food ministry in the Texas Hill Country and often make these biscuits for monthly community lunches to raise money for made-from-scratch gourmet meals for people who are homebound and otherwise in need of some neighbor-to-neighbor TLC. The biscuits are always a HUGE hit and are a breeze to make ahead, freeze and then finish off right before the 120+ people storm the doors for lunch. We’re going to make 100 loaves of Anadama bread for a Headstart fundraiser next month and I’m going to give your recipe a try instead of the one we’ve relied on for the past year (Fannie Farmer). Somehow “Yankee” bread in Texas just seems right!

        • Be sure to take pictures of your anadama bread and biscuits and we’ll post them on our facebook page! It’s comforting to know that the same recipe that warmed the stomachs of generations of Americans will help to do the same for your organization. Thanks for writing!

  4. Buddy Garriott

    Caught the show while channel surfing cooking shows and saw you cooking over an open fire. That’s all it took to get me to watch. You make everything look so easy. I am truly fascinated by your show. It has definitely become my favorite cooking show. The food makes me so hungry when I watch that I want to be there and partake of everything. Thanks so much.

  5. Genevieve Joubert

    What would you pair this with for dinner? Or is it more of a breakfast stand-alone bread? Thank you!

    • We love this bread with a dinner of roasted meats, especially ham or any hearty soup. It’s not very sweet, but has a hint of sweetness and great texture from the cornmeal. Leftover bread makes excellent sandwiches with mustard, roast beef and cheese. Some of our staff likes to have it with tea and an apple or grapes and cheese in the afternoon for snack, so go wild and tell us what you like to eat it with!

  6. christa

    enjoy the depth of the show the ease in which you share the past exciting the mind to try

  7. How do I order a dvd of featured recipes?

  8. Doris Suresch

    I have only just discovered you! I enjoyed your progran and the stuffed brisket I would like to prepare, is it on the web yet?

    Thank you, Doris

  9. Pingback: Anna, Damn Her! | sixtyfourcolorbox

  10. Melanie Fitch

    I was watching :A taste of history lastnight and would like the recipe for madeira chicken.I would also like to find out what types of mushrooms you used.My Grandmother used to pick wild mushrooms and boy!do I miss em.Thank-you!

  11. “Anadama (cornmeal molasses) Bread – A Taste of History”
    was in fact genuinely compelling and helpful! In the present day society
    that is tough to execute. Regards, Mark

  12. Hmm it seems like your site ate my first comment (it was
    extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying
    your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips and hints for first-time blog writers? I’d really
    appreciate it.

  13. I really like what you guys are usually up too. This
    type of clever work and reporting! Keep up the very good works guys I’ve included you guys to our blogroll.

  14. I just saw your show last night for the first time. You have a new fan! Excellent show and can’t wait to try your recipes!

  15. Love the show! Love the Food!!
    My girlfriend has both the old cookbook and the new one. I REALLY love the meat rubs too!!

    I really wish to visit the restaurant some day, but alas it be so far. Perhaps Chef Staib will get out west some day – our reenactors REALLY need a lesson in good cooking (trust me, hot dogs and kettle corn do NOT belong at reenacting events!!)

    Chef Staib, Please Come Educate These Western Blaggards!

    • Thanks for watching and please do visit the city of brotherly love. City Tavern is in Old City, the most historic square mile of America in the cradle of liberty! In the meantime, keep watching and inspiring those blaggards!

      • V. Cuneo

        Just sitting in my kitchen making the “Cabbage Pudding” as Jefferson put it and waiting for the Anadama to rise. I prepare an 18th C dining experience for the benefit of an historic society in CT. each year, although I am a Jersey Girl. I have great hopes for these recipes. Several of my original English 18th C cook books have orange Pudding recipes. Are Fools 18C or is this a later term? Are they one in the same? I would like to add this to my menu.

        • Fools, slubs and syllabubs are all wonderful recipes from the 18th century that we don’t hear much about today. Please check out Chef Staib’s newest cookbook, A Sweet Taste of History for dessert recipes!

  16. dot lopez

    Please e-mail recipes on the 7/7/2013 show. Thank you

  17. Donna

    Love the show, plus we get a little history with it

  18. Rick Cowlishaw

    I really appreciate your show from 2 perspective. I am a Colonial Period reenactor in the Denver Colorado area. We are a small bunch here but take our craft seriously. Thank you for your mention during one of the shows. In my youth, I worked in a Restaurant with German Chef. I learned a little about cooking then. You put those 2 things together for me. Thank you


  20. Where can I send for DVD copies of your show??

  21. Annette Orban

    Hi I love your show and have tried some of your recipes. The Anadama and Sally Lunn breads are fabulous! I saw on a recent episode Chef Staib used something called lemon pickle. Could you send me a recipe for making that? I volunteer at a local museum of 18th century life and would love to make some.

  22. Pingback: Anadama Bread...Bread with a Story | Recipes and Ramblings with the Tumbleweed Contessa

  23. I just love your program…so refreshing to see and hear ..infact I have my 17 year old granddaughter and her boyfriend sit and watch with me…so much of our history is not being taught in school like we were in Florida anyways…the grandkids are amazed at the quality and types of fantastic dishes you prepare..Chef are an inspiration..thank you,sir..mike burch

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