Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Fabulously Simple Whole Wheat Bread—No Yeast Required
It officially does not get any easier than this. This Quick Whole Wheat Molasses Bread is a little sweet, tender as a muffin and ready for the oven in 10 minutes—no rising necessary. And thank goodness, because I was feeling no tolerance for difficult bread recipes this week.
I had a bad run of luck last week due to two attempts at a whole wheat yeast loaf that failed to rise both times. I had made this recipe successfully once before, so it was even more irritating. Consequently, I was a little put off by yeast breads. I had recently pulled this recipe from the New York Times because it reminded me of my favorite Irish Soda Bread both for its simplicity and its use of whole grains. While Irish soda bread may always be my favorite healthy quick bread, this Whole Wheat Molasses loaf is a very tasty and very different option.
The lack of yeast means this is a quick bread, or a baked good that uses baking soda, baking powder or a combination as its leavener (muffins and scones also fall into this category). It does not have the chewy crust of a yeast loaf, but the crumb is dense and soft, kind of like banana bread. Molasses provides the sweetness that develops into a wonderfully nutty flavor that reminds me of a cross between maple syrup and soy sauce (never mind that description; it’s just good).
The molasses can be considered either the best or worst thing about the recipe depending on how you feel about this syrupy sweetener. During the cooking and baking process of this bread, I was very afraid. I thought I would have to redo it with honey because the molasses scent was strong and not entirely appealing. If you feel this way too, stay the course! Once the bread was cool and I slathered it with Irish butter, all was forgiven. Aside from moisture and a completely unique sweetness, the molasses gives this quick bread incredible moisture and a dark sugar-brown color. I know I will jump back on the yeast bread train eventually, but this is a handy recipe to have around when you want bread that is hearty, delicious and fast.
Quick Whole Wheat Molasses Bread
Adapted from Mark Bittman for the New York Times
This is a distinctly flavored bread, but that’s why I like it. If you are wary, Bittman says you can lighten up the texture and flavor and still keep the simplicity of quick bread by doing the following: use 1 ½ c. whole wheat flour and 1 ½ c. white flour; omit the cornmeal; substitute honey for the molasses; beat one egg into the wet ingredients.
Makes 1-9 x 5 inch loaf
Butter, for greasing pan
1 2/3 c. buttermilk or 1 ½ c. lowfat milk mixed with 2 tbs. white vinegar
2 ½ c. whole wheat flour
½ c. stone ground corn meal
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
½ c. molasses
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. If you are using milk and vinegar, combine them in a bowl or measuring cup and let them sit while you measure the dry ingredients. Grease a loaf pan (preferably nonstick) thoroughly with butter.
Whisk the flour, corn meal, salt and baking soda together in a large bowl. Mix the molasses into the milk-vinegar mixture or buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently just until combined. Pour the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until bread is firm and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
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