Without context this is an unusual bread name to remember. It is a regional US specialty with a tender soft crumb and subtle molasses flavor. The context behind the name? It’s a story of course …
Once upon time, a long time ago when men were Men and Women worked in the Kitchen, John and Ana were a newly married couple in New England. Ana was a lovely woman, beautiful and smart. She was gifted in many things but had absolutely no talent in the kitchen. In today’s world she’d probably be a fast tracker in corporate HQ or an apprentice to a $10B (or not) bigoted CEO. Anyways, Ana could cook only one thing, cornmeal mush. She cooked it every day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After eating mush for 15 days straight, John decided he could do better. He threw together Ana’s cornmeal mush with some yeast and flour, kneaded it himself, all the while muttering “Ana, damn her!”
This is a good dough to make with a KitchenAid mixer. It is fairly wet initially but with 4 minutes of mixing will pull together around the dough hook and away from the mixing bowl walls. Use a rubber spatula to scrape dough on to a lightly floured surface. The outside of the dough will be dryer than the inside, but after a couple minutes of kneading will have a smooth tackiness throughout.
I like to add raisins and/or walnuts, to add a bit of sweetness and texture to the bread. If using, add to the dough when rolling into the loaf’s form, just before the second rise.
Recipe derived from Better Homes and Gardens’ New Baking Book.
1 cup cornmeal
2 cup water
½ cup molasses
1/3 cup butter
2 tsp salt
4 ½ to 5 cups flour (all purpose is fine)
4 ½ tsp active dry yeast (2 packages)
¾ cup raisins or walnuts (optional)
2 8x4x2 loaf pans, greased and floured
Mix cornmeal and water in large bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir cornmeal and water and microwave again until you have a cornmeal mush. Cube butter and mix in to cornmeal mixture until melted. Add molasses and sugar. Cool liquid mixture until it is just warm (115 to 120 F).
Stir eggs into the cornmeal mixture and add to flour & yeast. Beat with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds and then on high speed for 3 minutes.
Turn dough on to lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in lightly oiled bowl and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.
After an hour, remove the dough and cut into 2. Press out into rectangle and add raisins & walnuts, if using. Tightly roll into a loaf shape and place into loaf pans to raise again for 1 hour, or until nearly doubled.
Bake in preheated 375 oven for 20 minutes. Remove & cover with foil to prevent burning. Bake for another 20 minutes.
Remove from oven. Rest for 5 minutes before removing from pans to cool on a wire rack.