Every culture has traditional foods, and I can’t think of one food that I associate with Newfoundland more than homemade bread. Newfoundland Molasses Sweet Bread is both a Newfie tradition and a treat!
Who doesn’t love homemade bread? I guess, in reality, it would be wise of me to stop making generalizations like that. But, in the case of bread, I believe it to be true! Even those of us who are gluten free or intolerant to breads, can appreciate the art of a homemade bread.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home where bread was a meal staple. It didn’t matter what was being placed on the table. Bread would most certainly always be a part of it.
Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner – it’s all good!
It might seem obvious that bread was a part of breakfast, and perfectly paired with bacon and eggs. But, bread is also quite common in lunch items too. Who can forget those ham and cheese, or PB & J sandwiches found in your school lunch bag every day?
Lunches in Newfoundland often consisted of leftovers from the night before. And, sometimes, mom would open a bottle of preserved moose or seal meat. Those were paired with buttered bread and a cup of tea. Honestly, I couldn’t have been happier with those thing for lunch when I was a kid.
The same applied to dinner. Bread was served with rice and potato all of the time. Not dinner rolls, like some would expect from a child of the 80s, but actually homemade sliced white bread. One of the quickest and easiest dinners mom would make was French fries and bread.
I would never eat it now, because I know how bad it is. But, I still look back at it fondly. Mom would deep fry the fries until really crispy. She’d pile them on a plate and top them with a little spoonful of the frying oil. (I’m not kidding!) Then, she’d add a generous sprinkling of ground black pepper, and some ketchup. That was then served with a slice of buttered bread.
The bread, you see, was needed as a filler. My mother never thought of potatoes as anything but a vegetable, and she knew we were supposed to eat those! The extra spoonful of frying oil? Well, that was for you to dip the buttered bread into, because clearly, the butter wasn’t enough! She was priceless!
Molasses Bread is not like Regular Bread!
In our family home, Newfoundland Molasses Sweet Bread was considered a treat, a snack, and sometimes, a dessert. Sweet bread was rarely eaten like normal white bread. Sweet bread was always served with a cup of tea. And most time, there would be cheese, and maybe a canned luncheon meat too. Oh, there would always be a jar of Preserved Mustard Pickles.
When my mom made Newfoundland Molasses Sweet Bread, she would add raisins too. I loved the bread, but hated the raisins. I would painstakingly pick every one out! This bread was also considered a bedtime snack. Very often, a thick slice – sometimes toasted! – with a good smear of butter was handed to us kids before bedtime.
Now, I tend to eat Newfoundland Molasses Sweet Bread in only one fashion. It must be toasted not once, but twice. Because, I love extra crispy toast. It must have lots of butter, and be served with the hottest cup of coffee my mouth can handle. That’s the best way to eat it; to me, it’s quite possibly my most favourite breakfast item!
Raisins are Traditionally used in Sweet Bread, but…
When I was a kid, I hated raisins. But, now, I love them! Like my mom, I would have preferred to add raisins to this bread as well. But, McKenna cannot stand raisins. She does, however, love a nice slice of toasted homemade bread, so for her sake, I left the raisins out. You can make it either way, just be sure to add the raisins to the recipe at the right time. See the recipe card below for details.
Light and fluffy, slightly sweet, and super easy to make, Newfoundland Molasses Sweet Bread is sure to be a favourite recipe of yours. Fall demands sweet bread, and GoT fans, as you know, winter is coming! Therefore, you need bread that’s warm and filling.
One last thing, this recipe requires some patience. It’s not a fast-make bread. You do need to work the dough. You will need to let the dough rise more than once, but the end result is worth it. You’ll yield four large loaves, and they freeze quite well. See recipe card below for more details.
Newfoundland Molasses Sweet Bread
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 8 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
- 1 1/2 cups 2% milk, slightly warmed
- 1 cup fancy molasses
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- 2 cups raisins, optional
- Start by melting the butter and heating the milk. Once melted and heated, remove from burner and set aside to cool.
- Next, measure whisk the eggs in a small bowl and set aside. Measure out one cup of molasses and set aside.
- Fetch a glass 2-cup measuring cup and fill it with hot water. Let it sit for a minute or so. This is to temper the glass. Otherwise, the cold glass will cool the lukewarm water too rapidly.
- Poor the hot water out of the measuring cup and add the lukewarm water. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the yeast and stir two or three times. Set the mixture aside for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, in the bowl of a counter top mixer that has been fitted with a paddle attachment, on low speed blend together 3 cups of the flour and the salt.
- Turn off the mixer and add the molasses, milk, butter, eggs, and yeast mixture. Turn the mixer on to a low speed and mix those ingredients together for 5 minutes.
- Turn off the mixer and replace the paddle attachment with a dough hook. Turn the mixer to a low speed and add one cup of flour at a time. You will add the 5 remaining cups of flour, for a total of 8 cups in all. Wait about 45 seconds between adding each additional cup.
- Increase the speed on your mixer to a medium speed. (If you are adding raisins to your bread, now is the time to add them.) When the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, remove the dough to a floured counter top.
- Using floured hands, knead the dough for a good 5 minutes.
- Transfer the kneaded dough ball to a large bowl that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave undisturbed in a warm area of your kitchen for 2 hours.
- After the 2 hours, remove the towel, and firmly punch the dough down with your fist. At this point, you are removing the air bubbles and gases created by the activation of the yeast. Knead the dough a few more times, cover once more, and let rest for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare 4 bread loaf pans by greasing them generously with butter. I like to use a pastry brush for this to get into the corners of the pan and to spread the butter well.
- As evenly as possible, cut the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion into a oblong shape, tucking the cut ends into themselves. With the smooth and rounded top exposed, drop the dough into the prepared loaf pans.
- Using a clean kitchen towel – not the damp one from earlier – cover the loaf pans and allow the dough to proof for another 2 hours. (This time may more more or it may be less – until the dough has risen about 2 inches above the top of the loaf pans.)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven. Lift or roll the loaves out of the pans immediately and onto a wire cooling rack.
- At this point, you can let the bread rest and completely cool. Or, in typical Newfoundlander fashion, you can brush the tops of the loaves with butter while they are still hot. This helps to soften the top crusts and creates a nice shine. This step is completely optional.