molasses bread

Hearty, wholesome and satisfyingly healthy, this multigrain molasses bread recipe was a staple in many pioneer kitchens and wood stoves. Made from a mix of wheat, rye, oats and corn this is a great way to introduce a variety of grains to your diet, while the iron content and deep flavor of molasses are perfect for adding some seasonal nuances and nutrients to the palate. This recipe calls for an 8-12 hour rise, so make the dough in the evening for an overnight rise, or you can make it ahead of time wrapping it airtight to keep for 3 days at room temperature or up to 2 months if frozen.

Makes 1 large loaf

Ingredients
1 ½ cups organic whole-wheat bread flour, plus more as needed
1  cup organic, unbleached white bread flour (plus more for dusting)
⅓ organic rye flour
1 cup organic oat flour
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon organic yellow or white cornmeal, divided
1 ½ tsp sea salt
2 tsp quick-rising yeast
½ lukewarm water, plus more as needed
⅓ cup organic molasses
3 Tbsp organic coconut oil or organic butter, melted

Method
Combine the whole wheat flour, white flour, oats, cornmeal, salt an yeast in a large mixing or bread bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the water, molasses and melted oil or butter, and then stir the mixture into the large bowl. Stir until thoroughly blended into a sticky but stiff dough, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well combined. If the dough is too dry, gradually add water, and if its too wet, very gradually add flour to stiffen it. Once ready, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel secured with a large elastic band. Let rise at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. It’s best to start the dough in the evening and let it rise overnight, or start it early in the morning and plan on baking it in the evening.

Depending on whether you want to make a pan shaped loaf or a free form loaf, oil a bread pan or flat baking sheet and sprinkle cornmeal on the bottom. After the first rise  stir the dough and add a small amount of whole wheat flour to make it firmer (it should be tough to stir). Transfer the dough to the pan or baking sheet and lightly coat the top with oil or butter. Cover and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400°F about 15-20 minutes before the second rise is through. Just before placing the loaf in the oven, sprinkle a bit of white flour on top, cut 4 or 5 diagonal slits with a serrated knife and then place on the middle rack. Bake at 400°F for about 10 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 375°F. Bake for another 60-75 minutes on the lowest rack (to prevent over browning) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes, and then turn the loaf onto a rack and let cool. If you slice the bread when it is still hot, it will smash down as the dough on the inside is still holding a lot of heat and finishing off its baking process. You can choose to dust a little more white flour on the loaf for presentation. Slice once cool and serve with your favorite soup, stew or salad.

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Image: Francis Storr