Molasses bread is a type of sweet bread. This recipe may be made using slow rising yeast, or as a quick bread without yeast. The resultant bread is very sweet, and somewhat moist. It can be flavored with a variety of spices and nuts, and is typically served as a dessert bread.
Molasses is a sweet syrup that is formed as a byproduct of sugar production, often referred to as the burned leftovers of sugar cane. This ingredient is considered a staple in some forms of cooking that are particular to the southern portion of the United States. It can be used in a variety of recipes to add sweet notes without using sugar, and is often found in meat glazes, cookies, and breads. The type of ingredient used in molasses bread may be blackstrap, light, or dark, depending on the flavor preferences of the cook.
The primary ingredients of yeast based molasses bread include bread flour, water, milk powder, butter, yeast, and molasses. The yeast should typically be combined with lukewarm water and sugar and allowed to expand prior to use. All ingredients may then be placed into a mixing bowl and combined. Dough loaves may be allowed to rise in any warm part of the kitchen beneath a light weight dish towel.
When molasses bread is made as a quick bread, without using yeast, the ingredients additionally include eggs, baking powder, vegetable oil, and sugar. Allspice, ground nutmeg, and cinnamon may be added for flavor and variety to the dough during the mixing process. The dough may be blended with any type of soft nut, such as walnut or pecan, to add deep and savory notes to its sweet nature. All ingredients are combined into a mixing bowl, and poured into a greased loaf pan. This bread typically bakes between 40 and 50 minutes in a hot oven, rising slightly.
The bread, when finished, should be slightly moist, and should not be dry in the center or crunchy at the crust. It can be stored in a dark, dry place, and wrapped with a cheesecloth to preserve moisture. Flavor may be added to this bread by first soaking the wrapping towel in rum or bourbon before winding it around the bread.
Cooks who prefer a more savory flavor for this bread may prefer a recipe that includes oats. Oat based molasses bread is similar in texture and flavor to multi-grain bread, and is suitable for use in sandwiches and other savory recipes. Whole wheat flour is typically substituted for bleached bread flour, and traditional rolled oats and bran flakes can be added to the ingredients list.