Monday, January 31, 2011

Make-it-from-scratch Monday: Oatmeal Molasses Bread

Since I posted the last bread recipe, I've really been enjoying making my own bread. I made my own English Muffins (which really aren't baked at all, come to find out) and then tried this recipe of my grandmother's.

 My paternal grandmother was a fabulous cook and baker, and some of her baked goods were legendary. However, I do not ever remember her baking bread- it was always pies or cookies. Even my dad couldn't recall her baking bread. But she must have, because she was born in 1903 and started keeping house in the 1920s, when it was not likely she bought bread at a store. Since this recipe uses some archaic ingrediants, I am going to assume it is from that period before my dad was born (1937) or from the war years when she couldn't get sugar or butter. She also moved from rural Lancaster County out to urban Pittsburgh about that time, so it seems likely that was the end of her bread baking.
This recipe was published in the Lititz Moravian Church (of which she was a member after she moved back from P'burgh in the 50s) cook book about 30 years ago. I was actually paging through the cookbook looking for something else when I saw this, and thought I'd give it a go:


So first mix the softened oatmeal, molasses (I assume "Not New Orleans-type" means "unsulphured"), softened butter (instead of shortening, blech, but it was one of Grandma's favorite ingrediants) and salt.

Add the yeast-water mix. (This is one of my favorite kitchen smells- yeast working.)

Add 2 beaten eggs- I used large instead of medium, but reserved about 1 T of the egg for later- and 2 c. flour. (I used 1 c. white and 1 c. whole wheat.) The dough is quite wet, almost like Play-doh.

I added another 2 cups of flour and kneaded it for a while. Then I set it in a gently-warmed oven (heated to 200 and then turned off) to rise for 1 1/2 hrs.

While that was rising, I prepared 3 loaf pans, by greasing them and dusting them with oatmeal- you need to add a lot of grease or the oatmeal won't coat it.

Once the dough had risen, I divided it into 3 loaves and brushed the tops with the reserved egg mixed with a bit of water, and then some oatmeal. Then it needs to rise again for about an hour. Maybe more, because I think they were still on the small side after that time.

But they baked up into cute little loaves, that had a very distinctive taste. The molasses tang is definitely there, but the oatmeal somehow disappears into the rest of the flour. It's certainly not a sweet bread; more of a sandwich bread. I did end up giving a loaf away along with a jar of homemade marmalade to the neighbor who plowed our driveway that same day, and I think that would be about a perfect taste pairing.


  1. Looks delicious! I need to get off the low carb thing and start baking again!

    I love you spun aluminium canisters and cake dome :)

  2. Um...Sue, tell me you don't prefer shortening to butter...please!

    And on my own home-made note, today I made chicken stock and a chicken and root veg. ragout for dinner.

    Good for you, baking yeast breads. It's the one kind of baking I really don't care to do.

  3. Looks delicious. I would have expected it to be a sweet bread...interesting.

    When I was a newlywed back in the 60s, I kept sourdough starter in my refrigerator and made bread every day...or cornbread or biscuits.

    You inspire me to get out the baking pans again.

  4. Vonlipi- those canisters will be featured in an upcoming "SusieQT collects..." post. I also have a few others in the set.

    Eileen- I certainly don't prefer shortening to butter, but it seems to be fairly prevalent in recipes of a certain age. I always substitute butter. I think a lot of these recipes were developed either during the war, when that was all people could get, or during the 50s when Crisco was supposedly "better" than butter (thanks to marketing). Could be an interesting post topic in the future! I also made wild turkey stock on Sunday, but will probably turn it into soup later this week. I already have a freezer full of stock.

    Dana- I thought it would be sweet too, but no... I have been thinking sourdough starter would be a good thing to have handy!

  5. Ooh, this bread sounds yummy! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

    Love the photo of your Grandma :)