The number of bread recipes around the world are nearly endless. From pão de queijo, to Ghanaian sugar bread, this blog has taken you on a small sampling of a global journey. However, it is time to bring it back home to New England. As the first settlers of this country, we haven’t always had it easy. We’ve seen many wars, massacres, and Red Sox losing streaks but, it is through those tumultuous times, where amazing flavors are born. Here is a list of great recipes, fun facts, and history that only a melting pot such as New England could produce or improve.
Boston Brown Bread
This bread is that of a dying breed but has a rich history steeped in New England resourcefulness and pride. In colonial, Puritan New England, they worked with very limited resources. Because of the regional climate, the puritans flour stocks contained high amounts of cornmeal and rye, with very little wheat. To ensure their supplies remained fresh they stored all three together.
These settlers didn’t have have access to ovens, so they needed to find a way to bake bread over an open fire. The best way they found was to steam the bread by combining all of the ingredients in a cylindrical container made of either glass or metal. Once the baking process was complete the bread was removed from the container and traditionally served warm with baked beans. Here’s how to make your own Boston Brown Bread at Home:
Boston Brown Bread Recipe
Recipe Courtesy of The Food Network
2 1/2 ounces whole wheat flour
2 1/2 ounces rye flour
2 1/2 ounces cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground freshly ground allspice
6 ounces molasses, by weight
8 1/2 ounces buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange zest
Special equipment: 2 empty (26.5-ounce) metal cans
Move a rack to the bottom third of the oven and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Spray the insides of the cans with nonstick spray and place set a deep 3-quart oven-safe pot. Begin heating enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the cans when poured into the pot.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the wheat flour, rye flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt and allspice. Add the molasses, buttermilk, vanilla and zest and whisk to combine. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared cans. Cover the top with a double thickness of aluminum foil and tie securely with string. Pour the boiling water into the pot. Carefully place in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the edges of the bread begin to pull away from the sides of the cans. Remove the cans from the pot of water, uncover, place on a cooling rack and cool 1 hour before removing bread from the cans. Serve with baked beans or slice, toast and serve with cream cheese.
There are many baked-goods out there that have very unique origins, but few have as interesting of a story as Anadama Bread. Prior to 1850 in either Gloucester or Rockport Massachusetts, there lived a fisherman and his wife Anna. One day, Anna was serving her husband, as he described it “a boring cornmeal mash”. He was not very happy with this meal and in an uncontrollable rage screamed “Anna, Damn her!”, as he proceeded to throw molasses, yeast, and flour into the mix. Inadvertently, he created something new, different, and quite delicious; a cornmeal risen bread that has been appropriately named, Anadama.
Anadama Bread Recipe
recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup molasses
1 (.25 ounces) package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 tsp salt
- Place 1/2 cup water and cornmeal in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until mixture thickens; about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter or margarine and molasses. Let cool to lukewarm.
- In a small mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Let sit until creamy; about 10 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled cornmeal mixture with the yeast mixture; stir until well blended. Add 2 cups of the flour and the salt; mix well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
- Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and put in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a loaf. Place the loaf in a lightly greased 9×5 inch loaf pan. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
- Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Irish Soda Bread
It’s no surprise that Irish Soda Bread was not created in New England. Although, when St. Patrick’s Day roles around, this bread flies off the shelves like the newest iPhone. So, it is only fitting that we include it in this post because of it’s importance to New England culture today.
The original recipe originated in Ireland and dates back to the late 1800’s. It consists of very basic ingredients, flour, baking soda, and sour milk; indicative of the poverty from which this bread was created. Traditionally, a cross was slashed on the top of the loaf to not only ward off evil spirits, but to help the loaf rise evenly. In addition, just like the Puritans, the Irish of the time did not have access to ovens and therefore baked this bread in a hearth, creating a dense interior and thick crusty exterior.
Irish Soda Bread Recipe
recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 up margarine, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
- In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an ‘X’ into the top of the loaf.
- Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Check the loaf with a toothpick after 30 minutes to see if it is done. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.