Spelt Anadama Bread

An old New England favorite with a twist or two!

This traditional New England yeasted bread was commonly baked throughout the region for at least a couple hundred years. It was even baked and sold commercially in Rockport, Mass. –– where some say it originated –– well into the 20th century. This delightfully flavored bread always includes both cornmeal and molasses, common ingredients that were often added to breads and other baked goods. The molasses lends a pleasant but light sweetness and flavor to this bread, as well as a slight bitter edge. The cornmeal adds delightful texture.

As many recipes as there were bakers

There are countless versions of this bread and differing techniques! Some call for boiling the cornmeal before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. Others used rye flour in addition to the white, and still others used a bit of graham flour. Some included milk, others just water.

My mom’s recipe was simple and used white flour and the cornmeal, and water was the liquid. I wanted to add more whole grain to the bread, so I used part whole grain spelt flour, and swapped out white spelt flour for the all-purpose. The original recipe used white sugar as a sweetener, I used maple syrup. It is enough to cut a bit of the bitterness of the molasses, but not enough to lend a maple flavor. Mom baked hers in a loaf pan, but I chose to form a boule and bake it in my Dutch oven. Of course, you can always bake it as a loaf if you like.

An ancient grain, spelt (Triticum spelta) has been cultivated for over 5,000 years around the world, and is considered by some people to be easier to digest than our common wheat, it’s close relative. We are very lucky to have a local farm that grows and mills the grain, so I sourced it there. I used cornmeal from another Vermont farm, a five-pound bag of which I accidentally ordered and am working my way through! 

The story of the unusual name, maybe…

The name? According to many sources, including Yankee Magazine, the legend overwhelmingly credits a Gloucester fisherman with naming this bread in exasperation with his wife. It is said that Anna was not much of a housekeeper, and served her hungry husband a few too many bowls of cornmeal mush and molasses for his supper. Annoyed with her, one evening, the angered fisherman tossed some flour and yeast into his mush and threw the concoction in the oven. Apparently, he muttered “Anna, damn her” frequently while the bread was baking, and the name stuck.

I have no idea if there is any truth to this, but never let the facts get in the way of a good story!

Spelt Anadama Bread

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 ¼ cups warm water, divided
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • ½ cup coarse cornmeal
  • 2 cups all-purpose spelt flour, or so
  • 2 cups whole grain spelt flour

Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the water (110 degrees) in a large bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast, whisk it up, and set aside for 10 minutes or so. In that time, the mixture should start producing bubbles and foam if it is active.

Combine the rest of the water, maple syrup, butter, molasses, and salt, and place on a low burner until the butter melts. Let cool to lukewarm, aim for no more than 110 degrees.

Add one cup of the all-purpose spelt to the yeast mixture and mix well. To this, add the cooled molasses mixture and stir up again, followed by the cornmeal and the rest of the flours, a cup at a time.

Once the mixture has mostly come together, turn it out onto a floured board and start kneading it together. You want the dough to be soft, but not too sticky. Add a bit more flour if you need to, and continue kneading for 8 to 10 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, turn the ball of dough over to grease the top, and cover with a cloth. Set in a warm place for about an hour, or until double in bulk.

Form into a boule. Turn the dough back onto the board and form into a ball. You want to keep the surface of the dough tight as you shape. Place in a floured proofing basket or bowl. Cover and let rise again for another hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and pop in a sturdy, covered Dutch oven to heat. Once preheated, remove the Dutch oven, flour the inside, and gently turn out the boule into it. Slash the top to allow steam to escape. Cover, and place in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove the cover and reduce the heat to 350.

Bake for another 30 minutes or so, until the bread is browned, and hollow sounding when you thump the bottom. The internal temperature should be around 200 degrees F.

Turn out onto a cooking rack and resist the temptation to cut into it before it is just barely warm. You don’t want to ruin the texture of the bread!

This is delicious served with orange marmalade.

© Copyright 2021– or current year, The New Vintage Kitchen, Dorothy Grover-ReadUnattributed use of this material is strictly prohibited. Reposting and links may be used, provided that credit is given to The New Vintage Kitchen, with  active link and direction to this original post. The New Vintage Kitchen does not accept ads or payment for mention of products or businesses.

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  1. Looks awesome. Will try it soon.

    1. Thank you! May you enjoy it as much as we do!

  2. Spelt Anadama Bread

    On Saturday, January 30, 2021, The New Vintage Kitchen wrote:

    > Dorothy’s New Vintage Kitchen posted: ” An old New England favorite with a > twist or two! This traditional New England yeasted bread was commonly baked > throughout the region for at least a couple hundred years. It was even > baked and sold commercially in Rockport, Mass. –– where some say it o” >

  3. Such a great looking loaf of bread! I’m glad to know spelt works well in it. Thanks for experimenting and sharing! 🙂

    1. Thank you Ronit! It was my first time using spelt in this recipe, and I was delighted. Even using the extra whole grain flour, the crumb was nice and tender.

      1. So good to know! I’ll give it a try soon. 🙂

  4. Great story of the naming of the bread and the bread itself looks really tasty.

    1. Thank you! We love it, and we love the story as well!

  5. Looks delicious especially on this cold weekend. 🙂

    1. Nothing like the aroma of bread baking when it is 1 degree outside!

  6. Angela says:

    I can’t believe I’ve never made Anadama Bread., and never used spelt. I think your modifications are great.

    1. Thank you Angela! Sometimes a little twist here and there is all that is needed. I hope you give it a try and love it as much as we do.

  7. Looks delicious

    1. Thank you so much!

  8. CarolCooks2 says:

    Looks delicious, Dorothy and as luck would have it I have spelt flour and some cornmeal I wish to use 🙂

    1. Wonderful! I hope you enjoy this Carol! Do you have the marmalade?

  9. jama says:

    I can practically smell that wonderful bread. Enjoyed the backstory and like your substitutions. And orange marmalade!? All the resident Paddingtons applaud you. 🙂

    1. Thanks Jama and all Paddingtons out there! I think I’d bake this bread just for the aroma! Well, and to slather it with a nice bitter marmalade!

    2. CarolCooks2 says:

      I do indeed, Dorothy and some lovely mango preserve I made 👌x

      1. Yum! I’ll be right over!

      2. CarolCooks2 says:

        Anytime, Dorothy be nice to swap recipes over a cuppa 🙂 x

  10. Mmmm. Such wonderful aromas must be surrounding your home! 💫🍞

    1. This bread in particular when baking and out of the oven drives the hungries wild!

      1. I’d have the butter ready to slather across the first slice! 😍🍃

  11. looks awesome!!

    1. Thank you! It’s a little different than a basic loaf, with lots of flavor.

  12. Love the story about how this bread got it’s name, I’ve always wondered about that! 😂 Sounds wonderful!

    1. Thanks Jenna! It is a fun story, and as good as any since there are no other references to that word!

  13. That looks so yummy <3
    I think Loaf and Ladle in Exeter used to offer it.
    I am going to try to grow Quinoa this season I will try something new each year why not I say. 🙂

    I also love the folklore of it's name and can an Old Salt saying such a thing lol

    1. Thank you Eunice! this is a delicious loaf, delicious story, and simple as well. I love that you are growing quinoa! I’ve never tried this, but you are so right, it is good to try new things each year. Thanks for stopping by!

      1. I enjoyed my visit 🙂

  14. nancyc says:

    This is a great-looking loaf of bread, and I’m sure it tastes as good as it looks!!! 🙂 With the cold weather, I’ve thought about making some homemade bread too—homemade bread is the best!

    1. Thank you Nancy! Baking bread is a perfect thing to do, especially if it is snowing outside! We got a nice snowfall last night, and it’s still going on, so I might put together this week’s loaf. Love how it makes the house smell!

  15. Nancy says:

    I used to love making Anadama bread- used a recipe from my old Deaf Smith Cookbook;) I can smell your kitchen from that picture. But what I really love about this post is that alphabet plate!!

    1. Thank you Nancy! My goodness, The Deaf Smith Cookbook brings back some memories! The plate has been used by all three of my grandchildren, part of a set of the Portmeirion Enchanted Garden series, lovely little fairies. My youngest still uses it and the mug all the time! Me too!

  16. Nancy says:

    Oooh, I’m going to look for them! Thanks-

    1. They are hard to find Nancy since they aren’t making them any longer. I’ve been trying to find a replacement for the egg cup that got broken! Good luck in your searches!

    1. Nancy, you are a treasure! Thank you so much for your kindness, I just bought this! The last time I looked on eBay for one of these, it was $85! My little granddaughter will be so happy, she loves soft boiled eggs! XXXOOO

  17. Nancy says:

    You’re so welcome!💕

    1. I received my egg cup! It is perfect, and my youngest granddaughter is so happy. Thank yo so much for your kindness in finding this for me, and at a really good price! Best, Dorothy

  18. Thank you so much!

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