Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Bit of This and That - Sesame Molasses Bread

Lately I've been reading quite a bit about the health aspects of bread, especially the flour. Of course, flour is the most important ingredient, and that which determines the character and the structure of the entire loaf. But there are other considerations as well and they do influence the 'health' index of a good loaf of bread. These include eggs. Also, sweeteners, if any and the fat content. When I say fat I mean any type of fat which for most breads  means butter or margarine. Sometimes it means some kind of vegetable oil (and that is usually a kind of oil that has no taste like canola or soy oil although for Mediterranean bread it almost always means olive oil). So the 'health index' of bread means whether you bake with whole wheat flour (and what percentage), liquid oil (and how much) and to a lesser degree fiber content (by adding bran). This bread that I made for the first time scores quite high on the 'health index'. It uses whole wheat flour (but mixed with white flour to develop gluten) and molasses (rich in B vitamins and iron). It is very versatile and very tasty. It has a slightly sweet taste and therefore is probably more suited to butter, jam and soft cheese type sandwiched rather than smoked meats and cold cuts. It is a great breakfast bread. I know you'll love it. It is based on a recipe found in that wonderful bread cookbook The Bread Bible: 300 Favorite Recipes, a book worth adding to your cookbook collection in any event.

Here's What You'll Need for 3 small loaves:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbs. yeast
Pinch of light brown sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 light molasses
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
5 to 5 1/2 cups AP flour

Here's What You'll Need to Do:
1. Dissolve the pinch of sugar and the yeast in the warm water. Let it stand for about 10 minutes until it becomes frothy.
2. Mix in the light brown sugar, molasses and the whole wheat flour. Stir until mixed and hydrated, then cover and let it stand to ferment until bubbly, about 1 1/2 hours.
3. Add the AP flour, 1 cup at a time along with the oil, sesame seeds, cornmeal, salt and eggs. Keep adding flour, one cup at a time making sure to incorporate it fully. Do not let the dough get stiff. This dough should remain a little sticky so avoid the temptation to make it more pliable by adding more flour. In the end this will make the bread heavy and dense.
4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and let it rise until doubled, about an hour.

5. Remove the dough from the bowl, and divide into 3 portions without kneading the dough further. Place each portion, now oval loaf-shaped, onto a prepared baking sheet. Cover and let the portions rest for an additional 45 minutes or so.

6. Meanwhile, about 20 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350 F (170 C). Lightly brush egg white over the loaves, and sprinkle more sesame seeds if you like.
7. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until very deep brown in color and they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

8. Cool completely on a rack before slicing and serving.


  1. That looks like it would be amazing with cheese and honey, and a cup of tea. One of my favourite meals in fact! I wish I wasn't so scared of baking bread. Yeast frightens me, and also I'm afraid that if I start I won't be able to stop!

  2. This is truly amazing bread, and honestly not as difficult as you might think. If you are interested I can guide you through the 'starter' breads and get you over the fear of yeast. Really, it's worth it. A little patience and attention to detail.