Rhubarb Streusel Muffins

rhubarb streusel muffins

It’s still too early for rhubarb in Southern New Brunswick but it won’t be long. The snow is barely gone but the gardens have responded to the late spring warmth with gusto and are racing to catch up.

While I watch my garden (and rhubarb) grow I’m enjoying the last of my stash of frozen rhubarb. I have been making rhubarb compote to stir into yogurt, rhubarb juice to drink with sparkling water and am now onto this rhubarb muffin recipe.

The more rhubarb I eat the more it feels like spring.

rhubarb streusel muffins

Rhubarb streusel muffins are light textured and not too sweet. I dice the rhubarb quite small to avoid getting a soggy mouthful.

Feel free to use oil instead of melted butter (although you will sacrifice a little flavour). Ginger is a lovely replacement for cinnamon and lemon zest could stand in for the orange zest.

Rhubarb Streusel Muffins

Makes 12-13 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cup sour cream or yogurt
  • ½ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. orange flower water (optional)
  • 1-1/2 cups diced rhubarb

Streusel topping:

  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. soft butter

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cups.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt and whisk to blend.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, melted butter, molasses, eggs, vanilla and orange flower water until smooth. Gently stir the sour cream mixture into the dry ingredients until the batter just comes together; do not overmix. Gently stir in the diced rhubarb. The batter will be thick.
  4. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. The batter should mound a bit higher than the tops of the cups.
  5. Make the topping: In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar and butter and rub together with your fingers. Sprinkle over each muffin.
  6. Bake the muffins until they’re golden brown and spring back when gently pressed about 18minutes. Transfer to a rack and let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully lift the muffins out of the pan and let them cool. Serve warm.

 

Easy and delicious Holiday breakfast recipes

Four easy and delicious Holiday breakfast ideas
Easy and delicious Holiday breakfast recipes

Oh I love holiday breakfasts. No one is in a hurry to get things on the table, no one is in a rush to finish, and there is time for another cup of coffee, and may be another.

Holiday breakfasts are for lingering.

Is that the pace at your house over the holidays?

I suspect for most the joy in lingering is all about timing. There are things that need doing first thing in the morning before you can really enjoy a long sit down.

I have friends who, as children, on Christmas morning had to eat a full breakfast before even so much as getting a peek at the tree in the living room. In our house growing up we had to wait for my eldest sister – the family sleepy head – to wake before we could all line up and file down the stairs. Now with my kids all I ask is that I have time to make myself a cup of coffee before the mayhem.

(Someday I’m sure we’ll be sipping our coffee waiting for our kids to wake on Christmas morning but for now we’re still crossing our fingers that they’ll sleep until 5:00 or so.)

Easy & delicious breakfast ideas

Since breakfast is often the most rushed meal of the day, taking a leisurely breakfasts feels a bit like an indulgence.

If that suits you just fine I have four breakfast ideas meant for lingering and suited to appetites big and small:

Molasses flax waffles:

 

molasses flax waffles

Molasses sticky buns:

Molasses sticky buns

Molasses walnut scones with vanilla glaze:

molasses walnut scones with vanilla glaze

 Blueberry pancakes:

blueberry pancakes

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top left hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

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Spicy pumpkin bread with molasses recipe

 Spicy pumpkin bread with molasses

 

There are few things I love more than when someone shares a recipe that has been in their family for years. It’s like being welcomed into their kitchen and handed a cup of tea. The gesture sits you right down at their kitchen table.

I am forever sharing my family’s recipes so I am pleased to offer a family favourite from another’s home.

Spicy pumpkin bread with molasses

This is Liz’s spicy pumpkin bread…

“I’ve been making this for years and years for my family, and we all really like it.” Liz told me in an email. “It’s much like a gingerbread in consistency, but I find it is moister than most gingerbreads.  The original recipe called for light or golden corn syrup, but I have always used Grandma Molasses molasses instead.”

I don’t know if it’s the spice blend, or the texture (or both) that makes this bread so comforting.

May be it’s the fact that the recipe has roots, like an old piece of furniture it connects the past with the present and has a story to tell.

Spicy pumpkin bread with molasses

Below is the recipe as Liz shared it with me.

When I made it I substituted ½ cup of the flour for whole wheat pastry flour, omitted the raisins and substituted pumpkin seeds for the walnuts. I also made three little loaves so adjusted the cooking time accordingly.

 

Liz’s spicy pumpkin bread with molasses recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (be sure to use pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.  Oil and line the bottom (and sides if you wish) of a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with parchment paper.  (Or prepare three small loaf pans).
  2. Sift together the first 8 ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until light.
  4. Add the sugar, molasses, oil and pumpkin and beat until thoroughly combined.
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add the liquid ingredients all at once and stir gently until combined.
  6. Fold in the raisins and nuts.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for about 80 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
  8. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  Then remove from the pan, peel off the parchment, and cool completely on a wire cake rack.

Note:  Wrap closely to store.  This loaf (like most others) will slice more easily if it has been stored for at least 8 hours.   For those who prefer to bake in bulk, I have doubled and tripled this recipe without encountering any problems.

Try our pumpkin loaf with molasses and ginger:

Pumpkin spice bread with molasses and ginger

Pumpkin spice muffins with walnuts and molasses

 Pumpkin spice muffins with walnuts and molasses

My kids have Halloween all mapped out. Literally.

They have drawn a map of the route they want to take to ensure they are making the most efficient use of their time and effort. And they have started to lobby for their choice of candy they’d like us to give out this year…already planning for leftovers.

We did our elaborate pumpkin carving last weekend, as part of our family’s Thanksgiving tradition, which means that a very simply carved pumpkin will suffice on Halloween night.

Carved pumpkins

All that’s left to plan are the costumes.

When I was little we had a big tickle trunk full of old dress up clothes to choose from. On Halloween day we’d rummage through it to assemble a costume and away we’d go.

One year I wore the hoop skirt from my mom’s wedding dress and tripped over the front hem the whole evening. Another time my costume included my grandfather’s tall leather Frontiersman boots, which were about five sizes too big. There was the year my dad helped me craft a cardboard box into a present with holes for my arms and a big bow on my head. The year I was a flower (I sewed big petals onto a bonnet) it snowed.

Pumpkin spice muffins with walnuts and molasses

There is nothing like Halloween memories to keep me cooking with pumpkin.

This latest recipe is a delicious adaptation of pumpkin spice muffins with walnuts from Daily Garnish.

They’re beautifully spiced and have a luscious texture thanks to the pumpkin puree. Lots of chopped walnuts and some candied ginger give them more of a grown-up taste and make them more interesting than your run-of-the-mill pumpkin muffin.

Pumpkin spice muffins with walnuts and molasses

Pumpkin spice muffins with walnuts and molasses

Adapted from Daily Garnish

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil or melted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, minced
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients (including brown sugar).
  3. In a medium bowl whisk the eggs with the pumpkin mixture then add the oil, molasses and vanilla.
  4. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until almost combined.
  5. Toss in the walnuts and ginger (reserving about 1 Tbs. of the ginger and 3 Tbsp. of the walnuts to sprinkle over top of the muffins before baking.)
  6. Gently fold the walnuts and ginger into the batter.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups and bake for about 30 minutes (until a tester comes out clean).

If you enjoy baking with pumpkin try our Pumpkin spice loaf recipe:

Pumpkin spice bread with molasses and ginger

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top right hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

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Pumpkin spice bread with molasses and ginger

 Pumpkin spice bread with ginger and molasses

 

My mom would sometimes put cloves, ginger and cinnamon in a little pot of water on the stove and simmer it all afternoon, sending the smell of gingerbread throughout the house.

It was often a way to get rid of other cooking smells but there is something about those smells that makes a cool house feel warmer.

It’s a good trick when you don’t have time to bake cookies or bread.

 

Pumpkin spice bread with ginger and molasses

But when you do have something spicy and sweet in the oven, or cooling on the counter, the house can feel so inviting and cozy.

That’s how I felt when this pumpkin spice bread with molasses was in the oven.

It’s a wholesome treat, makes a big loaf and is great for snacking. (I love it with homemade blueberry jelly.)

Pumpkin spice bread with ginger and molasses

Pumpkin spice bread with molasses and ginger

Adapted from Food52

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger (optional)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Topping:

  • 1 tsp. turbinado sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan or line it with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and nutmeg.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, oil, molasses, and buttermilk. Add the fresh ginger (if using) and vanilla.
  5. Make a well in the dry mixture and pour in the wet ingredients.
  6. Stir gently until just combined.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  8. In a small bowl, mix the turbinado sugar with the remaining teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the batter.
  9. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

If you’re craving a house that smells of cinnamon and ginger try our delicious apple gingerbread.

Apple gingerbread

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top left hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

Here’s to eating well, everyday,

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Almond flaxseed bread with wheat germ & a late summer lesson

Almond flaxseed bread with wheat germ is an easy and nutritious quick bread

At what age do we lose the ability to swim all day without feeling the cold?

I used to be that way and I miss it.

  • There are pictures of me swimming in the ocean along the coast of Maine and my lips are blue. Really blue. We couldn’t help but run back into the waves with our flutter boards, again and again.
  • I grew up swimming at New River Beach on the Bay of Fundy. We’d stay in the water until suppertime and used to joke that the temperature of the water in the Bay only changed two degrees from winter to summer. I don’t know if it’s exactly true, but it’s pretty close.
  • I grew up with daily summer swimming lessons on the Kennebecasis River. Every morning, rain or shine (unless there was thunder and lightning) we were in the water for 9:00.
  • Up at our camp on the St. John River my kids hardly ever come OUT of the water.

Almond flaxseed bread with wheat germ is an easy and nutritious quick bread

I would love to float in the river all afternoon or play “Marco Polo” with my kids for hours on end.

I can’t. I freeze.

So I Googled “Why don’t kids get cold in the water?” and this is what I discovered:

  • Kids are so excited about playing and exploring that there is no room in their brain to think about being cold. All of the fun shuts the door on the idea of being uncomfortable.

That is my new end of summer lesson.

I may yet end up with a wet suit but I’m going to swim like a kid again these last few summer weekends.

Almond flaxseed bread with wheat germ is an easy and nutritious quick bread

Late summer makes me think of baking more and with family joining us at our camp for the long weekend I was thinking about this yummy recipe for almond flaxseed bread with wheat germ. It’s great toasted with homemade raspberry jam but I also love it with cheese and tomatoes form my garden.

Almond flaxseed bread with wheat germ

Makes one large loaf

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups grain flour
  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • ½ cup flax seeds
  • ½ cup wheat germ
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ¼ cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. In another bowl combine the milk, oil and molasses.
  3. Add wet to dry. Stir until dry ingredients are just moistened then stir vigorously another 10 seconds
  4. Pour batter into a large loaf pan that has been greased and floured (or lined with parchment paper).
  5. Bake at 350 F 50 minutes

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top right hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

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Molasses walnut loaf recipe with whole wheat flour

 

Molasses walnut loaf recipe with whole wheat flour

I credit our dear family friend Phyllis with getting me hooked on tea breads at an early age.

She got me hooked on German Chocolate Cake too, and butterscotch squares, but my love of tea breads has been most enduring.

For five summers straight I ate lunch with Phyllis and her husband Mac at their home near the hospital where I worked as a summer student during university.

Every day I’d race through neighbourhood shortcuts to their house and sit down to a lunch of cheese and biscuits with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and Phyllis’ homemade mayonnaise. Then for dessert we’d have a cup of tea and nibble on slices of one of Phyllis’ wonderful tea breads.

Long after I was married they’d arrive at my home for visits, loaf of tea bread in hand.

Phyllis doesn’t bake anymore, but to this day any mention of a tea bread makes me think of her and all the happy times we shared.

I love that about food…how it can bring back fond memories.

Do certain recipes help you recall happy times?

Molasses walnut loaf recipe with whole wheat flour

This walnut loaf recipe is a not-too-sweet quick bread that is loaded with walnuts (a full cup!)  and gets lots of flavour from the molasses and the whole grain flour. Try it toasted too.

Molasses walnut loaf recipe

From 150 Essential Whole Grain Recipes: Canadian Living

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ¾ cups stone ground flour* (whole wheat or spelt)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk (or soured milk)
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Topping: 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts.

Glaze (optional): 3 Tbsp Grandma Fancy Molasses Tbsp. water

*Can use conventional flour

Instructions:

  1. Toast walnuts on a baking sheet in a 325 F oven for 7-8 minutes.
  2. Grease a large (8”x4”) loaf pan or line it with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl stir together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a medium bowl combine buttermilk, melted butter, molasses, sugar and eggs.
  5. Pour over dry mixture, sprinkle in the cup of chopped walnuts and stir just until combined.
  6. Scrape into the prepared pan, sprinkle with the extra 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts and bake for about an hour (until a tester comes out clean).

For the glaze:

  1. Combine ingredients in the microwave or heat on the stovetop until bubbly.
  2. Poke the top of the hot loaf with a skewer and brush with glaze.
  3. Cool before cutting

If you’re a fan of quick breads too, try our zucchini bread recipe.

Nela's zucchini bread

Molasses cornbread, golden & sweet

 

When I was growing up Johnnycake (aka cornbread) was near the top of my treat list and when mom made a batch to go along with supper I always filled up on it first. Permission to have cake with supper? Who would have thought! The not-too-sweet of it appealed to me, but so did the texture (a little coarse) and the buttery flavour.

To this day I gravitate to any kind of cornbread and often make it for my kids to go along with soup or chili. I have made molasses cornbread in the past but missed the golden colour of the bread when it’s made with honey. But then I found this recipe which combines the best of both worlds. You add molasses to ¼ of the batter only, for a marbled effect. My version here isn’t as pretty as the photo I found on the blog Paper and Salt, but it’s delicious nonetheless!

Johnnycake

From the blog Paper and Salt

  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk or soured milk*
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/8 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a 9-in. circular pan. In a large bowl, sift together corn meal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

2. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, egg and butter. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. With a large measuring cup, reserve ¼ of the batter; pour remaining batter into prepared pan.

3. Add molasses to the reserved batter and stir until well combined. Pour on top of pan in three straight lines, making stripes. Drag a knife across the batter perpendicular to the stripes, every two inches, to create a marbleized pattern.

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes.

 

* To sour milk, add 1 1/2 Tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice to the milk and let stand for 10 minutes before adding it to the recipe.

 

 

Molasses walnut scones recipe with vanilla glaze

molasses walnut scones with vanilla glaze

I consider scones the perfect snack food. There’s something about the texture that I find satisfying and comforting and they can be filling enough if made with good flour (whole grain). This molasses walnut scones recipe takes scones to a whole new level with a generous handful of nuts and sweet glaze. Just right for a mid-morning snack but even better eaten warm from the oven on a weekend morning.

Molasses walnut scones

I learned the art of scone and biscuit making from my mom who I doubt ever made a brick of a bread in her entire life.

The secret — use icy cold butter and work the dough as gently and as little as possible.

This brings to mind the story of a friend in high school who brought her first attempt at biscuits to a party. They were tough and heavy and we ended up taking turns chucking them off the back deck in a contest to see whose would go the furthest and if they’d smash into smithereens or land with a thud.  (Don’t feel sorry for her. She went on to become quite accomplished at all things baking and cooking).

Molasses walnut scones recipe with vanilla glaze

Adapted from Food & Drink magazine, Winter 2011 issue

  • 2 cups flour (use half whole grain flour)
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup cold butter
  • ¾ cup + 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 Tbsp. Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • ¾ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • Glaze:
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp. cream
  • ½ t vanilla
  • ¼ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives.
  3. Combine milk and molasses, mix well and add to dry mixture along with the walnuts .
  4. Stir gently just until the dough comes together.
  5. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. (This is a very light and sticky dough but resist the urge to add more flour. Keeping with the flour proportions and working the dough as little as possible creates the most beautifully soft scone.)
  6. Divide dough in half and pat each half into a 1” thick disk, fold it over on itself to create a half-moon, then fold it over again. Gently pat into a 1” thick disk, cut into 6 wedges.
  7. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet at least 1”apart.
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and coat with glaze while still warm. Sprinkle with finely chopped walnuts. Serve warm.

If you love scones as much as I do (and glazed scones at that) you might like to try whole wheat molasses oatmeal scones.

 

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Whole wheat molasses quick bread – a family favourite

Believe it or not this is a quick bread — no yeast, no rising and ready in no time.  It’s like the flip-flops of the bread world – quick, easy, just right for summer.

This summer discovery is all thanks to Grandma Molasses Facebook fan Heather Andrews. She posted last month that she makes a delicious whole wheat molasses bread.

Who could resist? I asked for the recipe and baked it this week.

A quick bread that tastes like my favourite molasses brown bread.

I assumed this bread would be more like a regular tea bread so got a great surprise when it reminded me more of my favourite molasses brown bread. Minus the time to prepare. (Not that I mind taking the time to bake yeast bread, when it’s not so hot out).

Here is Heather’s recipe. I made it straight up, not nuts or dried fruit this time. Also, I used stone ground flour so my batter was thinner than it would be with conventional flour but the texture of the baked loaf was fab.

Heather’s Whole wheat quick bread

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk or soured milk*
  • 3 tablespoons Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lightly-salted butter or 1 ½ tablespoons margarine, melted
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • ½ cup dark seedless raisins or any other dried fruit (optional)

Grease a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan. Heat oven to 400 F.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat egg in a large bowl. Stir in buttermilk, molasses and butter. Stir in flour mixture. Mix in walnuts and dried fruit (if using).

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake 40 minutes to an hour, or until well browned and a tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool.

*NOTE:  To replace buttermilk, just add one tsp. vinegar to each one cup of milk, or replace ¼ of the milk with plain yogurt.

Another variation from Heather: Add ½ cup prepared mincemeat and reduced the milk by about ¾ cup.