Newfoundland Molasses Raisin Bread
Originally published on December 22, 2008.
In the last few remaining baking days leading up to Christmas, I like to make this incredibly popular Newfoundland Molasses Raisin Bread commonly referred to in this province as "Lassie Raisin Bread". This is another of those iconic Newfoundland recipes that every native Newfoundlander's mother or grandmother used to make and hopefully still does.
This bread is fantastic warm, straight out of the oven and makes the absolute best toast ever! Molasses raisin toast is a bit of a Christmas morning tradition in our house so I normally make several loaves for the freezer too and a few extra loaves for a couple of lucky gift recipients.
If you've never done it before, be sure to hold back a little of the dough for "Lassie Raisin Toutons" which make a fantastic brunch addition too. Fry them at a little lower heat than you do regular toutons though as the added sugar in this dough browns and burns more easily.
For those who are familiar with making your own bread, you should be aware that the rising time for this bread is generally quite a bit longer than other breads. The times quoted here are just guidelines and will vary considerably depending on room temperature. The most important rising is in the pans; just make sure that the dough rises at least a couple of inches above the bread pans before baking the bread.
1 cups lukewarm water
1 ¼ cups lukewarm milk
2 tbsp white sugar
2 (8 gram) envelopes dry yeast
8-9 cups flour
1 ¼ cups molasses
1 tsp salt
¾ cup melted butter
2 beaten egg
3 cups raisins
In a small bowl, stir the sugar into the lukewarm water and then sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let stand without stirring for 10 minutes.
When the yeast is ready, add it to 3 cups of the flour, the salt, butter, molasses and beaten egg along with the warm milk in a large bowl or in the bowl of a large electric mixer that uses a dough hook. Using a wooden spoon or the regular paddle of your electric mixer mix slowly for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is smooth with no lumps. If using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook at this point and begin to slowly incorporate the remaining flour. You may need to use a little more or less flour to bring your dough to the proper consistency that is not too sticky. This is not unusual.
If not using an electric mixer keep mixing in the flour gradually until a soft dough forms that leaves the sides of the bowl. Add the raisins at this point and continue to knead until the raisins are evenly distributed in the dough. Turn the dough out onto the countertop or bread board to knead. You may need to use a little less or a little more flour, this is not uncommon. Knead the dough for an additional 10 minutes either in the electric mixer or on a bread board or countertop. When it is still quite sticky, I like to turn the dough out of the mixer and work the last of the flour in by hand kneading.
Cover dough and leave to rest and rise for one hour. Punch the dough down and knead it for a few minutes by hand before letting it rest for another 10 minutes.
Grease 4 medium loaf pans. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions, forming each division into a ball. Place 2 balls of dough in each loaf pan. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow the dough to rise until it is about 2 inches above the rim of the pan, about 2-3 hours depending on room temperature. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the pans that you are using.
When baked, turn loaves out onto a wire rack to cool. Brush the tops with melted butter if desired to soften the top crust.