Man does not live by bread alone, even pre-sliced bread. – D.W. Brogan
|Real Maritime Brown Bread – the yeast-risen variety!
This recipe is very difficult to find, if you've ever tried. The entire world thinks that brown bread is supposed to be steamed. Well not where I come from… the Maritimes. The steamed variety is called Boston Brown Bread.
|If your yeast doesn't get creamy throw it out and start again.
Boston Brown Bread is, despite its name, more of a pudding. It is a dough (often with raisins) that is moulded and steamed – much like Christmas pudding. Many recipes call for a large juice tin as the "pan." Many people love it.
I am not deriding Boston Brown Bread at all. It's just the one I remember from my youth was always yeast risen and baked. This recipe is often called Oatmeal Brown Bread and I have to admit they are very similar.
"A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose," said Gertrude Stein. So let's just call it Brown Bread and be done with it. The "brown" and its innate sweetness come from the presence of a great deal of molasses. Mmmmm...
Brown Bread is the love interest of the Baked Beans that I posted yesterday. They are inseparable in many people's minds – mine included. Brown Bread is wonderful while still warm from the oven, and it also toasts extremely well.
This bread is very easy to make and will soon become a family favorite. I can guarantee it. Don't be intimidated by the braid on top of the bread in the photo. It was a snap to do, and traditionally it is never there. That's just me "gilding the lily" again…
|This is the dough after everything has been added, but before kneading.
Maritime Molasses Brown Bread
Prep: 20 min | Rise: 3 hours | Bake: 45+ min | Yield: 1 loaf
3 tsp active dry yeast
1-1/2 cup warm water (110°F to 115°F)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp of salt
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup “quick” rolled oats
4 to 5 cups of flour
Melt the butter and let cool slightly. Proof the yeast in the warm water until creamy. Add the butter, sugar, molasses and salt and mix well.
Place the liquid in a large mixing bowl. Then add 3 cups of the flour and 1 cup of rolled oats and mix well. Add only enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. This may take the additional two, it may not. It depends on the moisture content in the flour.
|Knead the dough until smooth and then place in a greased bowl.
Knead until smooth, about 5-10 minutes. The dough should be soft and still feel “moist” but doesn’t stick to your hands. Kneading develops the gluten so don’t do this step half heartedly.
Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and place in a warm spot. Let rise until the dough doubles in size, about 2 hours.
|Let the dough rise, covered with plastic wrap and a towel, until doubled.
I use my hot water radiator for a heat source. It's perfect.
Grease a 6x10 loaf pan with shortening or butter.
Traditionally the dough would be divided into 2 or 3 balls and placed side by side in the pan and allowed to rise. Do so if you wish. I’m going to do something different that will let you bring the loaf to the table with a flourish – a braided top!
|Top do the braid, remove 1/4 of the dough and subdivide into 3 pieces.
Roll each into a long cylinder and braid them.
|Place the braid in top of the remaining dough. No need to "join" them.
They will automatically join when going through the second raise.
Remove 1/4 of the dough and divide into three pieces. Shape the remainder into a cylinder with your hands. Place that dough in the prepared pan.
Roll each of the 3 remaining pieces of dough into 12” strands and braid them together. Place the braid on top top of the dough in the pan. Let rise for a further 45 minutes to 1 hour.
|This is the risen loaf just before baking. The bottom has filled the pan
and all is very puffed up.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Just before putting the loaf in the oven throw 1/2 cup of water on the bottom of the hot oven and close the door. This makes the moist environment necessary to help the bread rise in the oven.
Bake the loaf in the centre of the oven until it sounds hollow when tapped with your fingers. For me that was 50 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let sit in the pan 10 minutes. Then remove the loaf to a rack to finish cooling.
|Fresh from the oven. Rub the top with butter if you wish. I did.
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Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks?