One of the most rewarding experiences young cooks can have is baking bread from scratch. Kids love kneading and punching down the dough -- both important parts of the process. And although they'll need to wait for the dough to rise, the payoff with this loaf is especially rewarding. Made from cornmeal and molasses, it has a distinctive flavor and chewy texture that make it irresistible. Be sure to try a slice toasted.
To read a bit of this bread's history, and an explanation of its unusual name, go to anadamabread.com.
Combine the water, cornmeal, and salt in a small saucepan. Gradually bring the mixture to a simmer while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the cornmeal thickens slightly, about 30 seconds, then remove it from the heat.
Scrape the cornmeal mush into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the butter with a wooden spoon until it melts. Then stir in the molasses. Set the mixture aside until it reaches room temperature, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the yeast over 1/2 cup of lukewarm water in a small bowl and let it dissolve, about 5 minutes. Then stir it into the mush.
Beat 1 cup of flour into the mush until it's well mixed, about 50 strokes. Repeat with a second cup. Beat in the third cup, 1/3 cup at a time.
When the dough pulls together into a ball, turn it out onto a flour-dusted surface and knead it by hand for a full 10 minutes, adding more flour if it gets too sticky.
Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and turn it once to coat the entire surface. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and lace it in a warm, draft-free spot until the dough doubles in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.
Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it for 1 minute. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, butter a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan and set it aside.
Pat the dough into a 12- by 9-inch rectangle.
Starting at a 9-inch edge, roll up the dough like a rug.
Pinch the seam together, and fold the ends under. Place the dough in the pan and cover it loosely with plastic wrap. Set it in a warm spot until it almost doubles in bulk, about 1 hour.
Set the oven rack one level below the center and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap from the pan and place the bread in the oven. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees. Bake the bread until it starts to brown, about 30 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let it cool thoroughly on a rack before slicing and serving.
TIP: To get the right consistency in our anadama bread, we used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. Bread flour contains more gluten, the protein that makes dough stretchy when flour is mixed with water and kneaded. The result is a loaf (on the right) that's lighter and chewier than one made with all-purpose flour (left).