The whole thing started when I was leafing through Cook's Country and saw a recipe for anadama bread. Anadama bread is apparently a New England tradition. (Friends from that region, can you confirm? I would love to hear!) The bread's trademark is that it gets its flavoring from molasses and cornmeal, two ingredients I enjoy and had on hand, and I was very intrigued.
I have always been oddly nervous about recipes that 1) require dough to rise and 2) require a stand mixer's dough hook. I googled how to modify a recipe that calls for a dough hook, and my favorite response was a post that likened my question to asking if was okay to hand-chop cabbage for a recipe that called for it to be put through a food processor. Knead away!
This recipe turned out to be easy to put together (even sans mixer). The only challenge is that the process requires letting the dough rise twice, which took longer in my kitchen than expected because it was cold. For that reason, it's a good project for a weekend day at home. (Oh! And you're supposed to let the fresh bread rest for two hours before you cut into it! We could only wait an hour.)
I really liked this bread's distinctive taste - especially toasted and used for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (or just topped with butter), although I do think it would also be good with soup or a savory sandwich with meat and cheese.
After I had fun making anadama bread, I wondered if it would be possible to make one of my favorite breads, English muffin bread. I chose one of the first recipes that popped up on Google because I had all the ingredients on hand. This one only requires one rise (and no kneading!), so it only took about an hour and a half from start to finish. Partly because of that, I could see it becoming a well-loved recipe in our house.
I sent one loaf from each batch to my brother, who lives nearby, and have been topping the remaining English muffin bread with butter and peanut butter and also using it for egg sandwiches. I like having fresh bread on hand, but the best part is how the smell of bread baking lingers all day in the house. I will make more bread just for this reason.