Growing up on the East Coast, brown bread was a weekend staple, alongside soups, chowders, or baked beans.
There is just something so comforting and cozy about a fresh piece of homemade brown bread and butter (especially during the colder months) — not to mention the amazing aroma that fills the entire house!
I’ve tested so many different formulations to come up with the perfect foolproof recipe that produces a traditional, sweet, and perfectly dense brown bread!
Yes, making bread can be intimidating, but if you follow this recipe you shouldn’t have any trouble.
The only thing to watch out for is how much flour you are using. You want a dough that is properly hydrated: too much flour and the dough can be dry and tough; too little flour and the dough will be a sticky mess and hard to handle.
HOW TO MEASURE THE FLOUR
For this recipe, I spoon the flour into a measuring cup and then level it off with the back of a knife. I’ve found this the simplest and best way for the most consistent results (without using a scale).
Dipping your measuring cup directly into the flour compacts it into the cup, which can lead to up to 25% more flour than the recipe calls for!
Even the weather can affect the hydration of your dough: when the humidity is high, your flour will absorb more moisture from the air.
Making bread is all about practicing until you get the feel for it. I’ve learned to always trust my instinct when determining whether the dough needs an extra sprinkling of flour or water.
Start by combining the oats, salt, hot water, molasses, and melted butter in a medium-sized bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
Then, in a small bowl, mix the sugar, warm water, and yeast until dissolved. Set aside for five minutes. The yeast should begin to foam on the top of the mixture.
Meanwhile, measure out the flour.
Pour in the oat/molasses mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
With the mixer on a low speed, slowly add in half of the flour, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl until well combined.
With the mixer still on low, add in the yeast mixture, followed by the remaining flour.
Turn the mixer to a medium-high speed and mix until the dough forms around the dough hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead on high for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (it may be slightly sticky). Sprinkle a small amount of flour over the dough and knead for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Grease the inside of a large bowl with melted butter and place the dough inside, covering the bowl lightly with a piece of plastic wrap.
Allow the dough to rise 60 to 90 minutes in a warm place until doubled in volume.
In the meantime, grease two loaf pans with melted butter and set them aside.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough 2 to 3 times to deflate and remove any air bubbles.
Cut the dough in half and form into two loaves, pinching together any seams.
Place each loaf into a greased loaf pans, seam side down.
Gently cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise a second time for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the loaves rise about an inch higher than the edges of the pan.
Preheat your oven to 375℉ and bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the center of the oven.
Remove the bread loaves from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes in the pans.
Then, carefully remove the bread loaves from each pan and allow them to cool on a cooling rack until fully cooled (at least 30 minutes).
Oatmeal & Molasses Brown Bread
This old-fashioned brown bread recipe is sweet, hearty, and full of molasses flavor — just like the one mom or grandma used to make!
- 1 cup oats (rolled or large flake)
- 2 ½ tsp kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
- 1 ½ cup hot water
- 1 cup fancy molasses
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (plus more for greasing)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 4 ½ tsp (2 packages) dry active yeast
- ⅔ cup warm water
- 7 ½ cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- In a large bowl, combine oats, salt, hot water, molasses, and melted butter. Stir and set aside.1 cup oats1 ½ cup hot water2 ½ tsp kosher salt1 cup fancy molasses4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- In a small bowl, mix sugar, yeast, and warm water until dissolved. Set aside for 5 minutes (yeast should begin to foam).2 tsp sugar⅔ cup warm water4 ½ tsp (2 packages) dry active yeast
- In a large bowl, measure out flour (by spooning the flour into a measuring cup and then leveling it off with the back of a knife).7 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, pour in oat/molasses mixture.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in half of the flour until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- With the mixer still on low speed, add in yeast mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- With the mixer still on low speed, slowly add in remaining flour, a bit at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. When the dough comes together, turn the mixer to high speed and knead for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Pour dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead, by hand, until dough is smooth and elastic (about 1 to 2 minutes). Shape the dough into a round mass and place into a lightly buttered bowl.
- Loosely cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place. Allow to rise until doubled in volume (about 60 to 90 minutes).
- Meanwhile, grease two loaf pans with melted butter and set aside.
- Pour dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead, by hand, two to three times to deflate and remove any air bubbles.
- Cut the dough in half and form into two loaves, folding dough into oval shape and pinching seams together. Place each loaf into a greased loaf pan, seam side down.
- Loosely cover each loaf with plastic wrap and set in a warm place. Allow to rise again until the loaves rise about an inch higher than the edges of the pans (about 60 to 90 minutes more).
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375℉.
- Bake loaves in the centre of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
- Remove from oven, and allow bread to cool 10 minutes in the pans. Carefully remove the loaves in the pans and set on a cooling rack. Allow to cool fully (at least 30 minutes).
- Despite how tempting it is, I recommend letting the bread cool completely before cutting into it, otherwise it can collapse and lead to a gummy texture.
- I use active dry yeast for this recipe — which calls for two risings — because I find it gives the bread the best flavor. You can certainly use quick/rapid rise yeast (and only allow for one rising), but just make sure to follow the instructions on the yeast packet.
- You can also use this recipe to make dinner rolls (instead of two loaves). Just keep an eye on them in the oven and adjust the baking time accordingly.