Anadama Cornbread

From Mother Earth News.  I keep hearing friends/tweeps/bloggersIfollow talk about this, and haven’t gotten around to making it yet.  But I might now!!  Sounds like it would be fantastic with chili, which we make almost weekly now that it’s cold.

Update 12/28/09 – made it!  And it’s super-yummy.  Dark and spongy and chewy. There’s definitely a hint of molasses flavor, but it’s not overpowering. Plus, the recipe makes a ton of bread!  I didn’t weigh the blob that I pulled off to bake, but it made a loaf about the right size for two of us for dinner, and there’s a TON left in the fridge, growing by the minute.

Mother Earth News says this is in pretty much every traditional American cookbook.

1.5 c. cornmeal
1/4 c. wheat germ
2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 T (2 packets) yeast
1 T. kosher salt (or to taste)
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten
3 1/2 c. lukewarm water
1/2 c. molasses

Combine all (dry to wet, but don’t let the yeast hit the salt directly). Rest until it rises and collapses again, about 2 hrs. Bake immediately, or refrigerate and use within 7 days.

I used the bread machine for this, due to a severe multitasking need, and it went ok.  The dough is quite thick, and I poked at it a couple times because I wasn’t certain the molasses was getting combined.  Next time, I’ll try the mixer instead.

When you’re ready to bake, dust surface with flour, cut off 1# piece, dust with flour and shape into a ball (stretched, not rolled). Rest 90 minutes (40 if you just made it).

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Brush top crust with water, and slash the top. Bake on a stone or on a silicone mat, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.

Recipe on Mother Earth also recommends a technique used in the Bread Bible for many hearth breads: throwing a bit of water into the broiler pan (placed anywhere in the oven), and quickly shutting the door.  The steam, it is suggested, helps to keep the outer crust moist, allowing it to stretch during the early part of the baking. A handful of ice cubes works, as well.