The Legend Behind Anadama Bread

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New England has bragging rights to a whole dinner party’s worth of dishes. Some, like New England Clam Chowder, Boston Baked Beans, and Boston Cream Pie need no explanation. Others, like Indian Pudding, Parker House Rolls, and Johnnycakes may not be immediately familiar, but are no less deserving of their place at the table.

Anadama Bread

Anadama Bread dough starts with cornmeal and molasses.

Aimee Seavey

In my effort to fully appreciate (and by appreciate, I mean taste) all that the traditional New England kitchen has to offer, I’ve been tackling a few of these dishes with the help of my trusty collection of Yankee cookbooks. My most recent adventure was with the most classic of New England loaves — Anadama Bread.

Anadama Bread has it all — regional origins, amazing taste, and an interesting back story. The name “Anadama Bread” first appeared in print in 1915, but it was undoubtedly baked in many New England hearths before then. What distinguishes Anadama from other breads is the inclusion of cornmeal and molasses. Both were common ingredients in Northeast cooking, but they truly shine in this bread.

So what does “Anadama” mean? Local legend overwhelmingly credits a Gloucester fisherman with coining the term as a not-so-loving tribute to his wife, Anna. It seems Anna wasn’t blessed with talent in the kitchen, and after numerous bowls of molasses and cornmeal porridge for supper, the fisherman angrily tossed in some flour and yeast one evening and threw the mixture into the oven. While it baked he sat muttering, “Anna, Damn her!”, and the name was born.

Fortunately, so was this delicious bread. The molasses and cornmeal make for a sweet and nutty aroma while it bakes, which carries over into the flavor.

anadama bread

Anadama Bread.

Aimee Seavey

Whether you enjoy Anadama bread warm from oven, toasted with butter with your morning tea, or as a sweet alternative to your everyday sandwich bread, you can be sure that with every bite you are eating like a true New Englander.

Anadama Bread

Subtly sweet and perfect for breakfast toast or sandwiches.

Aimee Seavey

Invert loaves to cool onto a wire rack, then enjoy a slice warm!

Click to view and print the recipe for Anadama Bread.

  • We call this bread, Portuguese bread -no story behind it though, except my grandmother brought the recipe from Portugal during the war. It is the same, except for the molasses; we use brown sugar instead. We bake it every week in winter to eat with creamy-vegetable soup. I’ll try it with molasses next time -yum yum!
    Thank you for bringing memories to life!

  • You’ve got it right! It’s the same story I heard from my grandmother and mother.
    It’s a favorite of my children ~ the bread, that is!


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