Oatmeal Molasses Bread
I just returned from three hours of chemotherapy to fight my multiple myeloma. With my limited mobility due to last summer’s multiple spinal fractures, I have been doing a lot of writing and artwork to strengthen my weakened back and core. While cancer has temporally robbed me of my ability to even lift a tray of cookies from an oven, I refuse to let it steal my love of baking.
I have decided that now is a good time to post many of the recipes I have collected from family, friends and those I interviewed when I was a recipe columnist and recipe editor for ECM Publishers.
Yesterday I posted a recipe about blackberries and included a reference to a wonderful bread made with oatmeal and molasses. The recipe for Oatmeal Molasses Bread has been passed down for generations in my family. My great grandmother who came to this country in the 1880’s made it. My grandmother made it during the great depression years of the 1930’s and for many thrashing crews who came to help bring in the yearly harvests. My mother and my aunt always made this recipe and I, too, have followed the tradition and baked this bread for my family.
Oatmeal was an important staple in our diets. I can vividly remember a conversation with my grandmother about oatmeal. She was sharing with me how hard it was to weather the poverty during the great depression and dust bowl years on the family farm. How when food was short they would eat oatmeal three times a day. She also described how there was no hay or grain for their cattle and the poor animals survived by eating the thistles that grew in a large slough we called Mud Lake.
The irony of our conversation was at the very moment she was telling me this story, she was eating her breakfast—a bowl of oatmeal. I took notice of this and asked her if she wasn’t sick of oatmeal. “No”, she said in a very resolute voice with her Swedish accent, “I like oatmeal!”
The lesson I learned from her that day was hardship is what you make of it. Perseverance is often about attitude not luck, and you can almost always find a measure of joy in simple things if you are just open to looking for it.
I hope you enjoy this hearty bread with the tang from molasses. I hope you take time today to look for joy in the simple pleasures of life like the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven.
Oatmeal Molasses Bread
2 cups oatmeal
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
6 tablespoons shortening (Crisco or lard)
1 cup mild molasses
In small bowl dissolve 3 packages of yeast in ½ cup lukewarm water. Set aside.
Place oatmeal, sugar, salt, shortening and molasses in large bowl and add 4 cups boiling water. Stir and cool until lukewarm. When cooled to lukewarm, add in 4 cups of flour and stir until completely combined.
Next, add the dissolved yeast mixture to the flour mixture and again stir until combined.
Roll the sticky dough onto a floured flat surface and knead in approximately 6 cups of flour. (The amount will vary slightly depending on humidity). The dough has enough flour when it is still just barely sticky, holds its shape and is soft and smooth like a baby’s butt.
Place dough into a large buttered bowl and let rise until double. Punch down dough and let it rise a second time until double.
Grease and flour the pans you want to use for your bread or buns. A loaf pan for loaves or 9X13 pans for buns.
Form the loaves or buns, place in the pans and let rise until double.
Bake in a 350 degree oven until browned and hollow sounding when knocked on.
Eat warm with lots of melted butter and blackberry jam!
Note: The rooster painting is one that I did last winter for physical therapy to strengthen my back. I painted a lot of roosters, because they are the clowns of the farm and bring back so many wonderful memories. If you want to see more of my prints visit: http://www.turgeonart.com.