I didn’t waste any time with this project – January 1, 2012 was Oatmeal-Flax Molasses Bread day. I chose this bread for one main reason: I happen to have molasses. I buy one bottle every two years or so, and I hardly ever have any use for it. Why I keep buying it, I don’t know. But today I was glad I had.

I was poking around The Joy of Cooking (my favorite cookbook), and found a recipe for Oatmeal Molasses Bread, which I adapted. It wasn’t too difficult, and produced great results (with some tweaking that I’ll explain in blue). Recipe and photos after the jump.

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Oatmeal-Flax Molasses Bread (you can find a printable version here)

Combine in a medium saucepan:

    • 1 ½ cups water
    • 1 cup steel-cut or rolled oats
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • ¾ teaspoon salt

Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat until oatmeal is soft, smooth, thick and free of lumps (about 20 minutes). Let cool, stirring occasionally, until tepid and no warmer than 115°.

Combine in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and let stand until yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes:

    • 1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
    • ¼ cup warm water (105-115°)

Add to the yeast the oatmeal mixture along with:

    • ½ cup room temperature water
    • 1/3 cup molasses

Stir until well blended. Whisk the following together, and gradually stir in until the dough is moist and not sticky:

    • 3 ¾ cups to 4 cups all-purpose flour
    • ¼ cup ground flax seed (this was not in the original recipe – I added it for fun and Omega-3’s)

Let’s stop here for a moment.
This is where I began to distrust the recipe a bit.  After adding 4 cups of flour, the dough wasn’t just moist or sticky, it was loose and runny, slightly thicker than dumpling batter. I was pretty sure I wasn’t get to get good sandwich bread from such a loose batter. So, I kept adding flour until the dough no longer stuck to the bowl. I didn’t measure, but I added at least another cup and a half. At least.  It was also at this point that I added about a tablespoon of whole flax seeds and the same amount of uncooked oatmeal, both for texture.   Onward.

Knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes, either by hand or on a low-medium setting on your mixer with a dough hook. Then, transfer the dough to an oil coated bowl. Turn the dough a time or two to coat it with oil. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and leave it in a warm place to rise for 1 ½ hours. Once it is doubled in volume, punch down the dough and knead briefly. Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a loose loaf shape on an floured work surface. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes (I actually forgot this resting step and it turned out fine)

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Loaves before panning. Notice the cute little flax seeds tucked in there!

Form the dough into free standing loaves, or place them seam-side down in oiled bread pans. Cover loosely with the damp towel, and let the dough rise in a warm place for another 1 ½ hours until doubled in volume.

In the pan, prior to the egg wash.

Preheat oven to 375°. If you’re making free-form loaves, slash the tops before baking. I topped my loaves with an egg wash and a sprinkling of oatmeal and flax seeds.

Bake until the bottoms of the loaves sound hollow when tapped, 40-45 minutes. You can also use an intant read thermometer to tell if they’re done – 190° is the right temperature.  Remove from pans to a rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Done and smelling fantastic.

Results:

    • It wasn’t dry! I was a little worried after adding all that extra flour, but it turned out to be the right thing to do. The crumb was perfect for a sandwich bread, and very moist.
    • The crust was a little chewier than I normally like. Might have been because of the egg wash.
    • My spontaneous addition of the ground flax seed turned out great. I don’t really taste it, but I know it’s providing me with Omega-3 fatty acids that I don’t get in my normal diet (I hate oily fish).
    • Adding the whole flax seeds and oatmeal was a great idea (thank you very much). I love breads with texture, and the seeds and oats give the bread heartiness.
    • There’s a nice dark molasses taste, not overwhelming but just enough to give it depth and a slight sweetness.
    • This would make an ideal bread for sandwiches, or even just slathered with butter. Highly recommended.

Again, I’d like to mention that you can find a printable version of this recipe by clicking here. If you decide to make it yourself, please let me know what you think of the recipe and any thoughts you have about improving it.

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