Sarah’s Molasses Brown Bread

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Molasses Brown Bread, a sweet and chewy oatmeal brown bread richly flavoured with molasses

I’m one of the bloggers participating in The Canadian Food Experience Project, a national program that’s helping to identify (or at least add clarity to) a Canadian food identity. This month’s task is to write about a regional Canadian food.

So, I have a question for you…

If I was to put in front of you a plate of homemade cookies, a slice of homemade cake and a loaf of homemade bread that’s just warm enough to melt the butter, which would you choose?

Molasses Brown Bread, a sweet and chewy oatmeal brown bread richly flavoured with molasses

Is there anything better than homemade bread? Anything more satisfying?

Growing up in Southern New Brunswick and anchored by Irish and Acadian roots, homemade bread meant one thing: molasses brown bread. Sure there’s the classic Maritime Brown Bread that’s steamed but I grew up on the sweet and chewy oatmeal brown bread richly flavoured with molasses.

We’d eat it on Saturday night with baked beans, as would half of Atlantic Canada I suspect.

Molasses Brown Bread is still my all-time favourite bread, for me a loaf that can’t be matched in flavour or texture.

It’s an easy yeast bread to make, takes just one rising, and is very forgiving (unlike the Irish).

Molasses Brown Bread, a sweet and chewy oatmeal brown bread richly flavoured with molasses

This recipe came to me from one of our Facebook fans, Sarah Ingalls. It’s similar to my mom’s brown bread recipe only it has more molasses so is a little moister. Sarah called it Three-Hour Brown Bread, which is a pretty accurate description since it’s a cinch to mix up, rises to double in about 1 1/2 hours then goes straight in the oven. I added whole wheat flour to the original recipe and used butter instead of the shortening originally called for.

Enjoy this bread alongside a bowl of Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Soup or Molasses Baked Beans. It’s great as a mid-morning snack too, no butter necessary since it’s sweet and moist.

Sarah’s three-hour Molasses Brown Bread

Makes two large loaves


  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. yeast
  • 3/4 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (spooned in)
  • 4 1/2 cups flour (spooned in)


  1. In a small bowl dissolve sugar in warm water and sprinkle over the yeast. Leave for 5-10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl mix molasses, rolled oats, butter and salt.
  3. Add 1 cup boiling water, whisk, and then add 1 cup cold water.
  4. Stir in yeast mixture.
  5. Add flour gradually and scrape dough onto a floured surface to knead in the final cup of flour.
  6. Cut dough in half and place in two large bread pans that have been well greased or lined with parchment paper.
  7. Cover each plan with a dishtowel and set in a warm place to rise until almost double in size (about 1 1/2 hours).
  8. Remove dishtowels and bake at 325 F for about an hour
  9. When ready, remove from oven and let cool about five minutes before removing from pans to cook.

What’s a distinctly Canadian food in your region? Do you have a favourite family recipe?

The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity.

Here’s my mom’s recipe for Molasses Brown Bread

oatmeal brown bread - Mom's


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Here’s to eating well, everyday,

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18 thoughts on “Sarah’s Molasses Brown Bread

  1. Monique says:

    I’m getting ready to try this recipe!!

  2. Janice salmon says:

    Joined this about a year ago. I really wanted a brown bread recipe….I moved from New Brunswick 17 years ago and the west coast people call whole wheat bread brown bread….what a shock when I ordered a sandwwich with brown bread and they offered me whole wheat. The west coast Canadians do not know what they are missing.

    1. Hi Janice, There’s nothing like a true brown bread, is there? Moist, a little chewy…Reminds me that I must pull out this recipe again.

  3. Missy says:

    Hey Bridget, this is my first attempt at bread and I followed the recipe to a tee… But my dough was extremely sticky, even with the 61/2cups of flour. It’s currently rising, should the dough be that difficult to manage?

    1. Hi Missy,
      I hope that your bread turned out alright. Sometimes bread dough can be pretty soft and it is often affected by the weather. Were you happy with the bread? I think you’ll find that each time you make homemade bread you get a better feel for it. I have been making bread for years and almost always used more flour than the recipe called for. But now I’m better at kneading so use much less and my loaves are lighter.

  4. mona Ivany says:

    I made the molasses brown bread and home made beans today with fried bologna . they were great

    1. Hi Mona, Such a classic Maritime meal!

  5. Mon says:

    I make brown bread with Grandma Molasses molasses, the difference with my recipe is as follows:
    I put rolled oats in my kneading Pan , add boiling water and let it sit until cool to the touch (the mixture is like porridge) then I continue with the remainder of my ingredients. It is delicious. This is my mother’s recipe dating back to the 30’s.

    1. Hi Monica, I like your idea of making a bit of a porridge with the rolled oats. I bet it makes the texture that much softer. The method is similar to my mom’s brown bread recipe.

  6. Lloyd Best says:

    Make this all the time I add one egg to the mixture. Everybody loves it

    1. Hi Lloyd, An egg, what a great idea! I think I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion.

  7. Margaret Delgatty says:

    The bread, hands down! Have you developed a gluten-free version of this recipe yet?

    (And your Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Soup is very high on my list of things to try soon…)


    1. Hi Margaret, I wish I could figure out a GF version of this one since it’s such a delicious recipe. I suppose you could replace the flour with a GF flour blend. Also, one reader adds an egg to the dough, which might be great for a GF option, to help with texture.

  8. Vivian Murphy says:

    I would choose the Molasses Brown Bread. Nothing better,no matter the time of day!

    1. Hi Vivian, I’m with you and am happy that there is still a loaf of this bread on the counter at home. On this stormy day it will be great to have it with a big bowl of soup.

  9. Veronica says:

    Hi. Can I convert this recipe for brown bread to my breadmaker. Thanks.

    1. Hi Veronica, To convert this recipe for a bead machine you’ll need to cut it in half. There are also some particulars about dry-to-liquid ratios that are covered off in this info from Fleishman’s Yeast:
      Good luck

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