One of my many, many, many, projects is the collection of recipes for bread of all types. I recently found myself arranging them in alphabetical order. Please don’t ask me why. Please. The letters Q and Z are problematic, but in I am hopeful of completing my alphabetical series one day. I promise to book in for therapy soon. In the meanwhile, I thought perhaps that you would like to share - so, from the beginning of my list I give you my two favourites from the letter A.
To Make Acorn Bread.
Take a quantity of acorns, fully ripe, deprive them of their covers and beat them into a paste, let them lay in water for a night, then press it from them, which deprives them of their astringency. Then dry and powder the mass for use. When wanted, knead it up into a dough, with water, and roll it out into thin cakes, which are to be baked over the embers.
Bread made after this method is by no means disagreeable, and was much used in former times; and even to this day, it is said to be made use of in some countries.
A Treatise on the Art of Breadmaking, 1805
My second choice is the intriguingly named ‘Anadama Bread.’ There are a number of explanations of the semi-mythological variety of this name – all variations of the idea of a disgruntled man referring to his wife as ‘Anna, Damn Her’, on account of some dissatisfaction with the bread (or cornmeal porridge) that she provided all too often for his daily meal. I have no idea how old the name is, but it appears that it was ‘Ammy-Dammy’ before it was Anadama. There are plenty of recipes from the second decade of the twentieth century, but as written recipes usually appear long after the real thing, it surely goes back at least to the end of the nineteenth century. Please do let us all know if you have any further knowledge.
Today’s recipe for Ammy-Dammy Bread comes from The Syracuse Herald of November 25, 1933, but is said to have been ‘taken from an old kitchen scrapbook of a real Marbleheader.’
One-half cup of yellow cornmeal, one-half cup of molasses, one tablespoon of lard, one teaspoon of salt, and two cups of boiling water. After the mixture has become lukewarm, add one yeast cake dissolved in a half-cup of water. Now, mix in sufficient bread flour – in Colonial days this flour was the home-milled product – to make a stiff dough. Let it rise overnight. In the morning stir down and divide into four baking pans. Again it should be allowed to rise, and then into the oven for 45 minutes baking.
Well, that’s your Ammy-Dammy bread!
And was there ever such a crust?
Quotation for the Day.
I would say to housewives, be not daunted by one failure, nor by twenty. Resolve that you will have good bread, and never cease striving after this result till you have effected it. If persons without brains can accomplish this, why cannot you?
Housekeeping In Old Virginia' Marion Cabell Tyree ed. (1878)