With its syrupy sweetness and dense crumb, it’s no wonder that this brown bread has become a staple of the Nova Scotian pantry. Each household has its own variation on this molasses-infused loaf, but regrettably, it seems that these days few people take the time to make brown bread the old-fashioned way.
Even if all your bread is store-bought, try this hand-made recipe on for size. You’ll be amazed by how simple it can be to make your own bread at home. This recipe yields two very generous loaves – making your efforts well worth it!
What You’ll Need
– 1 3/4 c. warm water
– 1 T. traditional yeast
– 1 c. rolled oats
– 1 c. fancy molasses
– 3 T. vegetable oil
– 1 1/4 t. sea salt
– 1 c. spelt flour (or one cup extra all purpose flour)
– 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 c. all purpose flour
In a large bowl, add yeast to warm water and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir until yeast is fully-dissolved (water should be murky).
Stir in oats, molasses, vegetable oil and salt. Next, add your spelt flour and mix until smooth and free of clumps. Add in all purpose flour cup by cup, mixing in until you have a smooth ball of dough that is moist, but not sticky. It is better to have a wetter dough than a crumbly, dry dough. Do not add more flour than you need.
Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, until dough is elastic (a good way to test: poke a finger into the dough – if it springs back to fill in the hole, it is ready to go). Roll into a ball, coat with vegetable oil, and place in a large bowl, covered with clean cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough has doubled in size.
Once your dough has risen, turn out onto countertop and punch it down. Divide in half with knife, and with wet hands, shape each half of the dough into a loaf (you can either use well-oiled 9×5″ breadpans, or go for the more rustic hand-shaped look and simply place your formed loaves onto a large, greased baking sheet). Let rise again for 20 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 F. When loaves have finished second rising, spray with water and – if desired – top with a handful of rolled oats or seeds. Score the tops of the loaves with a wet knife, then place in oven. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F and continue baking for another 20 to 25 minutes until crust is browned and bread is baked through (Hint: a baked loaf of bread should sound hollow when tapped on its bottom).
Remove from pans or sheet onto cooling rack, let cool for half-an-hour, and enjoy.