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!
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.
Yield is 4 large loaves. Each loaf will yield 12 thick slices for a total of 48 servings. Proofing/rising times may vary, depending on the temperature of your home and/or kitchen. The second proof is the most important. To ensure your bread is light and fluffy, and perfectly cooked, be sure the dough has risen at least 2 inches above the pan before baking.To freeze, allow loaves to fully cool. Wrap loaves in wax or parchment paper. Then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place wrapped loaves in a large seal-able freezer bag and place in freezer.To thaw, remove loaf from freezer bag and sit on kitchen counter for 2-3 hours. Do not attempt to re-heat bread in the oven!