Molasses adds flavor and nutrition


Molasses is one of my favorite ingredients for dishes. It contributes sweetness and depth of flavor and is a good source of several hard to get vitamins and minerals of manganese, magnesium, copper, vitamin B-6, selenium, potassium, iron and calcium. While the cost for a jug of molasses has gone up in recent years (what hasn’t) I still use it in many baked goods and dishes. Many of these recipes are considered vintage but I consider them just good food.

Boston Brown Bread

I have found variations on this recipe in cook books as old as the 1860’s, and I am sure it is even older than that. This calls for whole wheat graham flour, this means flour that has all the “parts” of the wheat kernal. I mill my own so it is already a complete wheat flour but if you buy whole wheat flour you will need to add about 1-1/2 teaspoons wheat germ for every cup of store bought flour to achieve roughly the same flavor and texture. Sift this together.

1 ½ cups whole wheat graham flour

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup dark molasses

1 ½ cups buttermilk (may used soured milk as subsitute)

Remove the paper wrapper from 2 empty, BPA-free 28-ounce cans. Wash and dry them, then grease the bottom and sides with cooking spray. Line the bottom of each can with a round of parchment and press it to lay flat.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Add the molasses and buttermilk or soured milk to the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.

Divide the batter between the 2 cans, tapping them on the counter to level out the batter. Cover the top of each can with foil, secured tightly around the sides.

Put the cans in a pot on the stove with water halfway up the cans.

Cover the pot and bring the water to a simmer on medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep it simmering for 45-60 minutes, until the breads are set on the top and sides. The bread should pull away slightly from the sides of the can. The internal temperature of the bread should be 200˚F / 93˚C.

Remove the cans from the pot. Set them on a wire rack and cool the breads in the cans. Once they are room temperature, use a knife to loosen the bread from the sides of the can, then turn the can upside down and tap it lightly. The bread should slide out.

Wet Bottom Shoofly Pie

For some reason I don’t make this one often, and then when I do, I wonder why I don’t make it more frequently. It is fast and delicious.

1 egg yolk

1/2 cup unsulphured molasses

3/4 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons room temperature butter

1 9-inch pie shell, unbaked

Preheat oven to 400°F. Beat the egg yolk in a small bowl. Blend in the molasses. Add the boiling water once you have dissolved the soda in it. Set aside.

Combine dry ingredients. Add butter and work into crumbs with your fingers. Pour liquid into pastry crust and evenly sprinkle crumbs on top.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400°F, then lower heat to 325°F and bake for another 30 minutes. Pie should be mostly set. Serve with whipped cream.

Molasses Donut Cookies

This is one of those random recipes I came across in my web-based wormholes. I decided to try it and these were a hit with my kiddos. Apparently they are pretty popular in northern New York state area. We like them with and without frosting.

1/2 cup baking cocoa

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 to 1/3 cup water

1 large egg

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch ground nutmeg

Pinch salt

Frosting

6 tablespoons butter, softened

3 cups confectioners' sugar

3 to 4 tablespoons 2% milk

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

Assorted jimmies for decorating

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mix cocoa and oil until smooth. Beat in brown sugar, molasses, 1/4 cup water and egg. In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, spices and salt; gradually beat into cocoa mixture. If necessary, add additional water to form a stiff dough.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; knead a few times, forming a smooth dough. Divide dough in half; roll each portion to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 3-in. doughnut cutter. Place doughnut and doughnut-hole cutouts 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 7-9 minutes or until set. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a bowl, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, vanilla and salt until smooth. If necessary, beat in additional milk to reach spreading consistency. Spread over cookies. Sprinkle with jimmies. Let stand until set. Store in an airtight container.

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