Sarah’s Molasses Brown Bread

Servings: 2 loaves serving(s)

Prep time: 2 hours

Total time: 3 hours

Cooking time: 1 hours

Take me to the recipe

This easy molasses brown bread recipe is ready in three hours (including rising time).  If you’re new to yeast bread, this is the best beginner recipe ever. 

Molasses Brown Bread, a sweet and chewy oatmeal brown bread richly flavoured with molasses

I’m one of the bloggers participating in The Canadian Food Experience Project, a national program that’s helping to identify (or at least add clarity to) a Canadian food identity. This month’s task is to write about a regional Canadian food.

So, I have a question for you…

If I was to put in front of you a plate of homemade cookies, a slice of homemade cake and a loaf of homemade bread that’s just warm enough to melt the butter, which would you choose?

Molasses Brown Bread, a sweet and chewy oatmeal brown bread richly flavoured with molasses

Is there anything better than homemade bread? Is there anything more satisfying?

Growing up in Southern New Brunswick, and anchored by Irish and Acadian roots, homemade bread meant one thing to me: molasses brown bread. Sure there’s the classic Maritime Brown Bread that’s steamed but I grew up on the sweet and chewy oatmeal brown bread richly flavoured with molasses.

We’d eat it on Saturday night with baked beans, as would half of Atlantic Canada I suspect.

Molasses Brown Bread is still my all-time favourite bread – nothing can match it in flavour or texture.

This molasses brown bread recipe is an easy yeast bread to make, takes just one rising, and is very forgiving (unlike the Irish).

Molasses Brown Bread, a sweet and chewy oatmeal brown bread richly flavoured with molasses

This recipe came to me from one of our Facebook fans, Sarah Ingalls. It’s similar to my mom’s brown bread recipe only it has more molasses so is a little moister. Sarah called it Three-Hour Brown Bread, which is a pretty accurate description since it’s a cinch to mix up, rises to double in about 1 1/2 hours then goes straight in the oven. I added whole wheat flour to the original recipe and used butter instead of the shortening originally called for.

Enjoy this bread alongside a bowl of Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Soup or Molasses Baked Beans. It’s great as a mid-morning snack too, no butter necessary since it’s sweet and moist.

Sarah’s three-hour Molasses Brown Bread Recipe

Makes two large loaves

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. yeast
  • 3/4 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (spooned in)
  • 4 1/2 cups flour (spooned in)

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl dissolve sugar in the 1 cup of warm water and sprinkle over the yeast. Leave for 5-10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl mix molasses, rolled oats, butter and salt.
  3. Add the 1 cup boiling water, whisk, and then add the 1 cup cold water.
  4. Stir in yeast mixture.
  5. Add flour gradually and scrape dough onto a floured surface to knead in the final cup of flour.
  6. Cut dough in half and place in two large bread pans that have been well greased or lined with parchment paper.
  7. Cover each plan with a dishtowel and set in a warm place to rise until almost double in size (about 1 1/2 hours).
  8. Remove dishtowels and bake at 325 F for about an hour
  9. When ready, remove from oven and let cool about five minutes before removing from pans to cool.

What’s a distinctly Canadian food in your region? Do you have a favourite family recipe?

The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity.

Here’s my mom’s recipe for Molasses Brown Bread

oatmeal brown bread - Mom's

One more thing…

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Here’s to eating well, everyday,

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Molasses and The Canadian Food Experience Project

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I’m one of the bloggers participating in The Canadian Food Experience Project, a national program that’s helping to identify (or at least add clarity to) a Canadian food identity.

It’s a fun program that has been making me stop and think about what makes some food distinctly Canadian.

This month’s task was to write about a regional Canadian food…

Well, if you grew up on the East Coast, chances are you had molasses in your cupboard. For generations it was the principal sweetener in households along the Eastern Seaboard, thanks to the north-south trading with the Caribbean.

Sailing ship

Back in the 1870’s Lorenzo Crosby started an import/export business in Yarmouth Nova Scotia. (In the late 1890’s he moved the business to Saint John, New Brunswick.) He transported Maritime fish and lumber to the West Indies and the ships returned loaded to the gunwales with puncheons of fancy molasses.

It was used to make rum but it also made its way into what is now traditional East Coast cooking: baked beans, gingerbread, all sorts of molasses cookies, Maritime brown bread and molasses pull taffy.

From the East Coast molasses, and family recipes that called for the sweetener, travelled west in the packs of settlers and took root in regional cooking across the country.

Crosby Molasses wagon

I like to call molasses edible nostalgia since any mention of it sends our memories racing back to our grandmothers’ kitchens.

According to my grandfather, molasses was pretty much its own food group and made its way to the table for every meal. If it wasn’t baked or cooked into something it was drizzled over fresh bread as an after dinner treat. (Whether the molasses goes on before or after the butter is a matter of preference, and much debate.)

I grew up with the smell of molasses cookies wafting through the house and Sunday dessert was often gingerbread cake with fresh berries on the side or a brown sugar sauce. Molasses baked beans with brown bread was a Saturday night staple and gingerbread cookies hung on our Christmas tree.

This is the comfort food of my childhood and forms the foundation of my Canadian food identity.

I love molasses any time of the year but now that we’re in the thick of the summer growing season I enjoy it with fresh fruit. Baked into a gingerbread is a delicious way to make the most of local berries and rhubarb, peaches and more.

Try one of these gingerbread recipes and let me know if molasses is part of your Canadian food identity.

Peach gingerbread:

Peach gingerbread recipe

Blackberry gingerbread:

Blackberry gingerbread recipe

Old fashioned gingerbread:

Gingerbread with toffee coffee sauce

Soaked ginger cake:

Soaked ginger cake - drenched in a warm buttery brown sugar sauce

The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity.