In Mike Martin's Beneath The Surface (which I reviewed here), food-loving Mounted Policeman Sgt Windflower is always cataloguing his delicious meals or dreaming about what he'll be eating next, and one of the things that got several mentions was Raisin Molasses Bread. I took to google and discovered that this is a genuine Newfoundland speciality. I also discovered that molasses is the same as black treacle and I just happened to have a tin in the cupboard that needed using up -perfect !
Here are just a few of the mentions of the delicacy :in the book :
p10 "As luck would have it, the bakery lady was just bringing out a fresh batch of homemade molasses raisin bread, so he added two loaves to his bill. One he would offer to Eddie Tizzard as thanks for letting him pick his brain on the Parsons investigation, and one he would keep for himself that would go great with some fresh blueberry jam when he got back to Grand Bank."
p27 "He found a few containers and a bucket, and made himself a thermos of tea and a thick cheese and lettuce sandwich with plenty of hot mustard on his molasses raisin bread. Then he was off for a spate of blueberry picking."
p33 "Windflower put his bowl of turkey soup in the microwave to heat it up and cut himself a thick slab of molasses raisin bread."
I had all the ingredients I needed so this was the perfect recipe to recreate. Here's my version :
Sgt Windflower's Newfoundland Raisin Molasses Bread (inspired by Mike Martin's Beneath The Surface)
1 sachet active dry yeast
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup molasses (black treacle)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/8 cup margarine, melted
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
6 cups flour (I used plain but I think self raising would work better for sandwiches)
1 & 1/2 cups raisins
Grease 2 loaf pans. (I used the Dr Oetker Cake Release spray from this month's Degustabox but oil or margarine would be fine.)
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water in a large bowl and add 1 tsp sugar. Leave it to do its magic for about 5 minutes.
Add the remaining water (1 & 1/2 cups), 1/2 cup molasses, 1/8 cup melted margarine, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and remaining sugar to the yeast mixture and mix until perfectly combined.
Add the flour, bit by bit, and the raisins. Mix with a spoon then get your hands in there and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).
Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave it to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size (about an hour).
Split in half then divide each half into thirds. Shape each piece into a ball, put them in the pan close together then leave to rise again.
Heat the oven to 180°C. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the loaves are golden brown.
I wasn't sure whether this was supposed to use plain or self-raising flour so I used plain, as it already uses yeast. This produced a loaf with the firm texture of malt loaf, which is very nice but compact and quite small. If you want to use it for sandwiches (maybe with cheese, lettuce and mustard like Sgt Windflower?), you should probably use self-raising to get a springier and bigger loaf. If you google "Newfoundland raisin molasses bread" and look at the pictures, both seem to be an option. The kids have been wolfing it down, topped either with butter or clotted cream. It's lovely toasted too.
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