Complex Combo: Sourdough Brown Bread with Molasses

My new favorite flavor combination is  sourdough, whole grains and molasses.  Like good friends each enhances the virtues of the others. 
Bubbly sourdough, oatmeal and whole wheat grains and earthy molasses
You'll find this complex combination in a rustic loaf of Sourdough Brown Bread with Molasses

Although new to me, it is very possible that your great-grandparents ate a similar loaf, especially if of Irish decent. 

This sturdy loaf is moist, dense and finely textured with a touch of surprising sweetness.  That sweetness comes from molasses, a by-product of sugar cane production that, unlike pure refined cane sugar, packs an array of nutrients including essential minerals (like iron, potassium and magnesium) and trace amounts of vitamins.

This bread can't be hurried. It relies only on sourdough for its leavening. An overnight rise in the refrigerator or a few hours out on the counter gives a gentle rise, but it will not be lifted to the lofty heights of a yeasted bread. Of course the unique taste is well worth the wait. 

Sourdough Brown Bread with Molasses

1 1/2 cups Sourdough
1 cup lukewarm milk
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
2 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or more if needed)

In a large mixing bowl combine sourdough, milk, molasses, brown sugar, salt and vegetable oil. Slowly add oatmeal and whole wheat flour.  Add enough all purpose flour so that the dough forms a ball. 

Knead either with a dough hook or by hand until dough is smooth and elastic. You may have to add more flour while kneading. 

Place dough in an oil in glass bowl for rising and cover. Since it is sourdough you do not want to use a stainless steel or metal bowl. Since sourdough provides the only leaving for this loaf, plan on a longer rise. If it works better in my schedule, I have covered it with plastic wrap and allowed it to rise overnight in the refrigerator.  Another option is to cover and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours. In my experience the dough does not double, but does expand nicely. 

Punch down dough and divide into two pieces. Shape into loaves and place into oiled loaf pans. Cover and allow to rise again at room temperature for about two hours (more is okay).  My dough did not completely fill the large loaf pans even after rising. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until nicely browned and loaves sound hollow when tapped. 

Be sure to have a hefty slice while still slightly warm, slathered with butter. Yum! 

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