Molasses gives a rich smoky aroma to this soft, dark wholemeal oat bread. Best eaten warm from the oven smothered in plenty of butter.
I’m sure you’ve experienced having a song stuck in your head, but do you ever get a taste stuck in there? Occasionally I’ll see or hear about a food item and I won’t stop thinking about it. This happened most recently when Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella reposted an old recipe for Dark Molasses Oatmeal Bread on Instagram. Even though I’ve never eaten this bread before, I could imagine the taste and I couldn’t get it out of my head.
I just happened to have half a jar of molasses in the pantry, so really I had no choice but to bring my own loaf into existence. To be fair, I am primed to make bread at any given moment with very little encouragement required. The first time Mischa offhandedly suggested it would be nice to have some fresh bread with our soup, he was shocked when a steaming crusty loaf emerged from the oven two hours later. “YOU ACTUALLY MADE THIS? THERE WASN’T BREAD AND NOW THERE IS BREAD THIS IS INCREDIBLE”.
Behind the blog trivia: This was my second attempt at a single-handed pouring action shot. The first one ended with me tipping molasses all over the table.
There is something so soothing about making bread. The smell of the yeast, the feel of the soft warm dough, the anticipation of waiting for it to rise. I came across a quote online recently that I think sums it up perfectly:
When I bake bread, I give thousands of yeast organisms false hope by feeding them sugar, before ruthlessly baking them to death in an oven and eating their corpses.
Such a comforting thought.
I used a combination of stoneground wholemeal bread flour and strong malted bread flour. The malted flour contained wholegrains which added some extra bite and texture to the finished loaf. You can play around with flour combinations – e.g. use half white bread flour for a lighter, less dense loaf. (You may then need to adjust the recipe accordingly if the dough is too sticky or too dry, adding a tablespoon of flour or water at a time.)
The resulting loaf definitely lived up to the expectations in my head. The molasses provides a rich, smoky sweetness which combines with the wholemeal flours to create a dense, moist flavourful loaf. It was delicious with just butter and would make a great accompaniment to a minestrone type soup. It would also work well as a sandwich bread, paired with pastrami and a strong mustard.
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 375 ml boiling water
- 60 ml lukewarm water
- 2 t dried yeast (one sachet)
- 1 t honey or sugar
- 1 t salt
- 3.5 cups wholemeal flour (I used a mix of half stoneground wholemeal bread flour and half strong malted bread flour)
- 125 ml molasses
- 1 t oil
- 1 egg beaten
In a small bowl, soak the oats in boiling water and leave to cool.
In another bowl, dissolve honey or sugar in lukewarm water and sprinkle yeast over the liquid. Wait 5-10 mins for yeast to begin foaming.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour and salt.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, then add soaked oats, molasses and yeast mixture. Mix by hand until the flour is all combined, then transfer to the mixer.
Knead on low-med speed for 6-8 mins until the dough has a springy elastic consistency.
Turn the dough out onto the bench and shape into a ball. Grease the bowl with oil and return the dough to the bowl, turning it over so it becomes coated in oil.
Cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (60-90 mins). Line a cast iron casserole dish with baking paper.
When risen, punch the dough down, and divide into 12-16 even portions. Roll each portion into a ball and arrange closely inside casserole dish.
Cover with lid and leave to rise again in a warm place for 60 mins. Once risen, preheat the oven to 180C.
Brush the top of the rolls with beaten egg, and cook for 30 mins in the oven with the lid on. After 30 mins, remove lid and cook for another 10-15 mins until dark golden brown.
Best eaten warm from the oven with excessive amounts of butter.
If you don't have a cast iron casserole dish you could use any kind of high-sided loaf or cake tin. If the crust starts getting too dark before the bread is cooked, cover it with a sheet of aluminium foil.
Adapted from recipe by Not Quite Nigella: Dark Molasses Oatmeal Bread