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Old Fashioned Brown Bread

This old-fashioned brown bread is a classic recipe that grandma used to make with simple ingredients. The bread is dense, and hearty, with a deep color and sweet molasses flavor. No yeast and no kneading required! Just mix everything in bowls, and pour the batter into a loaf pan to bake.

This delicious, family-friendly recipe uses rolled oats, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, molasses and a few other baking ingredients to make an easy homemade bread.

Slices can be served with fresh butter, jam, cream cheese or peanut butter. Serve for lunch in a simple sandwich, or have a slice with a cup of tea for an afternoon snack.

slices of old fashioned brown bread cut out with a serrated bread knife beside it.

Whole Wheat Molasses Bread

  • This recipe is similar to traditional Boston brown bread. The original recipe was steamed in empty coffee cans in a large kettle until cooked through. A modern version can be made easily by pouring the batter into a loaf pan to bake until golden brown.
  • This is a quick brown soda bread that doesn’t require active dry yeast or kneading the dough. Just mix the ingredients together in a bowl, and pour batter into a loaf pan to bake.
  • Quick breads are a budget-friendly recipe costing less than $2 to make. These use healthier, fresher ingredients than store-bought breads that contain unwanted preservatives.
  • This kid-friendly bread can be spread with peanut butter or jam, or served on its own. Traditionally, this bread was served with beans and franks.
  • Tuck a slice into lunch boxes for a sweet treat. This also makes a great afterschool snack for hungry kids. Another favorite lunch snack is our peanut butter bread.
  • We love classic, old-fashioned recipes that grandma used to make like our devils food cake recipe, ooey gooey delicious lemon coconut squares, or classic raisin bran muffins.
Recipe ingredients on a counter in bowls including all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, buttermilk, molasses, sugar, rolled oats, water, brown sugar, butter and egg.

Recipe Ingredients

ROLLED OATS: Old-fashioned rolled oats are lightly toasted over the stove in a frying pan, then added to a blender to form a flour consistency. If you don’t have a blender, you can use a food processor, or skip this step and purchase oat flour.

DRY INGREDIENTS: A blend of all-purpose white flour and whole wheat flour makes this bread hearty fluffy and wholesome. This is combined with baking soda, baking powder, brown sugar, cane sugar, and salt. Cold butter is cut into small cubes and added to the flour mixture.

WET INGREDIENTS: Molasses, egg, buttermilk and water are combined and mixed with the dry ingredients to create a dark brown batter (that smells incredible).

VARIATIONS: Raisins, dried cranberries, chopped nuts or seeds can be added to the batter for a bit of texture and crunch. For a heartier taste, substitute whole wheat flour for rye flour.

Four images showing steps to make the recipe. First is dry flour ingredients, sugars and baking powder. Second is dark brown wet ingredients in bowl with spatula. Third is brown wet batter in a white bowl with spatula. Fourth is batter dumped into glass loaf pan with a spatula on top.

How To Make Old Fashioned Brown Bread

This is a simple recipe without a lot of fuss. Here’s a quick overview with full detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  1. Toast the rolled oats in a frying pan without any oil over the stove. Add to a blender or food processor and pulse into a fine flour.
  2. Add the three different flours, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and cane sugar to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Cut the cold butter and add to the flour mixture. Blend until it forms small crumbles.
  4. Mix the buttermilk, egg, molasses and water together. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake until golden brown.
  6. Let cool then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Use a sharp knife to cut into 1″ slices.

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight bag in the fridge or counter up to 4-5 days.

This brown bread also freezes well! Slice the bread and let it cool completely before adding to a freezer bag. To help prevent freezer burn, I like to wrap the bread in parchment paper or plastic wrap and then place it in a large freezer bag. It can be frozen for up to 6 months.

Frozen bread can be thawed overnight on the counter or in the fridge. Slices can be toasted frozen. Or wrapped in a paper towel and heated in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.

Close up of baked brown bread in a glass loaf pan with a plaid kitchen towel beside it.

Recipe Tips

  • Check the bread at 50 minutes by poking it with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.
  • The edges might start to darken too fast before the bread is cooked. Cover the top with aluminum foil to slow down the process.
  • Use a serrated bread knife to cut into slices. Go slowly as this bread can be a bit delicate. Wait until bread is cooled before slicing to help prevent pieces from breaking.
Looking down at brown bread cut into slices but still together in loaf shape with kitchen towel beside it.

More Quick Bread Recipes

Old Fashioned Brown Bread Recipe

The bread is dense, hearty and has a sweet molasses flavor. No yeast and no kneading required. Just mix everything in bowls, and pour the batter into a loaf pan to bake.
Print Pin Recipe
Prep Time: 12 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 12 minutes
Servings: 12 slices

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the inside of a loaf pan with vegetable oil and a paper towel.
    A bowl with a paper towel dipped in oil beside a glass loaf pan.
  • Toast the rolled oats in a pan over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Keep an eye on them during this process so they don't burn.
    Two images of a frying pan. First with untoasted rolled oats. Second with toasted rolled oats.
  • Add the toasted rolled oats to a blender or food processor and blend until they form a flour-like consistency.
    Looking down into a blender. First with toasted rolled oats. Second with ground oat flour.
  • Add the oat flour, all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and white cane sugar to a large bowl and whisk together.
    Two images grouped together. First is bowl with various dry ingredients dumped in. Second is bowl with dry ingredients mixed together and a spatula.
  • Cut the cold butter into small cubes, then add it to the flour mixture. Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to mix the butter with flour until it forms pea-sized crumbs.
    A white bowl with cold cubes of butter on top of flour mixture. Second is bowl with flour mixture and pastry cutter on top.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, molasses, water and egg.
    Two images grouped together. First is wet ingredients dumped in unmixed. Second is bowl with dark brown liquid and a spatula inside.
  • Add the buttermilk molasses (wet ingredients) to the dry flour ingredients and mix everything together.
    Two images of a white bowl. First is flour mixture and wet ingredients poured on top. Second is dark brown batter mixed together and spatula.
  • Pour into the greased loaf pan and spread into an even layer.
    Two images mixed together. First is brown batter poured into glass loaf pan with spatula on top. Second is batter smoothed out in glass loaf pan.
  • Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when poked through the center.
    Let cool 10 minutes, then run a butter knife along the edges to help loosen. Gently flip and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
    Two images. First is baked brown bread in glass loaf pan. Second is brown bread sitting on top of a wire cooling rack.

Recipe Notes:

  • Check the bread at 50 minutes by poking it with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.
  • The edges might start to darken too fast before the bread is cooked. Cover the top with aluminum foil to slow down the process.
  • Use a serrated bread knife to cut into slices. Go slowly as this bread can be a bit delicate. Wait until bread is cooled before slicing to help prevent pieces from breaking.

Please note these nutritional values provided above are just an estimate. Actual numbers will vary based on brands and ingredients you choose, and your preferred portion sizes.

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