When guests descend for breakfast at the Hillsdale House Inn in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia; they smell fresh bread. Fresh, Nova Scotia brown bread made with care and attention.
Revised from an old family recipe, passed down from kitchen to kitchen it used to read “a handful” of this or ”a dash of” that… but that can make for uneasy results. Now modified to fit modern standards, this is a great recipe to cut your teeth on if you;re a bread beginner.
Bread making truly is an art. If you’re a first timer, don’t give up. Bread, unlike cakes, needs a great deal of labour to activate the gluten and the yeast and allow it to rise. The more you knead it, the smaller the bubbles in the bread. When in doubt, knead it more. A great way to work out frustrations – you know if you do that kind of thing.
“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
Old School, Nova Scotia Brown Bread – Recipe
Source: Val Peterson, Hillsdale House Inn, Annapolis Royal, NS
1 cup bran
2 cups oatmeal
2/3 cups Crisco shortening
4 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup warm water
1 cup molasses
10 ½ to 11 ½ cups (all purpose) flour
- In large bowl, add bran, oatmeal. Add 4 cups boiling water and stir. Allow to stand for ten minutes. (the boiling water will melt the shortening, no need to melt beforehand)
- After 10 minutes proof the yeast; in a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons yeast, 2 teaspoons sugar and one cup of warm water. Allow to stand 10 minutes to proof.
- Add to bran mixture, one cup of molasses, stir, then add the yeast mixture and stir.
- Knead in 10 ½ to 11 ½ cups of flour, move onto floured surface as required and knead until dough feels firm “like a baby’s bottom”. (This term has been used with this recipe, dating back 50+ years. Babies have changed very little.)
- Let rise in a warm, dry spot until double in size
- Divide and move to greased/prepared bread pans (makes 3 large sized loafs)
- Let rise again in pans and bake at 350* (180*C) for 40 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and cool before turning out of pans.