[Sourdough] Dark Molasses & Honey Bread

[Sourdough] Dark Molasses & Honey Bread

This no-knead sourdough loaf is modeled after the dark, sweet, grainy rye breads I became accustomed to encountering in sandwich shops when I lived in southern California. They usually called it squaw bread (I wonder if they still do…) and it makes an excellent foundation for the veggie-loaded sandwiches they do so well down there.

Let’s take a moment to talk about molasses, and how it comes to be. When fresh sugar cane is harvested, it is pressed to yield a juice with about 15% sugar by weight. This cane juice is evaporated, and as water is lost, the solution passes its saturation point and sugars start to crystallize. The syrup is spun in a centrifuge to separate the crystals, which undergo further refinement on their way to becoming white sugar. The dark syrup that remains is molasses, and its darkness is a reflection of the complex products of the sugar cane’s plant biochemistry. Among the “impurities” fractionated into molasses from refined sugar are a significant amount of B vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, potassium and selenium.

[Sourdough] Dark Molasses & Honey Bread

Different grades of molasses can be produced in sequential steps of evaporation/extraction. The first batches yield lighter, sweeter syrups. As more sugars are crystallized out, the molasses becomes more dark, bitter and concentrated. Blackstrap molasses is the last stop; after 3 rounds of evaporation, it becomes economically inefficient to extract any more sugar. Blackstrap molasses is the most robustly flavored, lowest in sugar and richest in micronutrients. I love the deeply bittersweet taste, and the bonus nutrition it can bring to baked goods. 

[Sourdough] Dark Molasses & Honey Bread

My dark bread is made with a blend of rye and wheat flours. I add 1/4 cup per loaf each of molasses and honey, and for even more bitter darkness, I replace half of the water with brewed coffee.

[Sourdough] Dark Molasses & Honey Bread

I was compelled to make this bake happen because my household has been suffering nostalgic cravings for San Diego’s legendary Board and Brew – their Veggie Deluxe sandwich was always the absolute veggiest. I’m pleased to report that the bread made my sandwich taste quite authentic, although I still need to prefect my secret orange sauce (anybody out there have theories to share??)

Outside of sandwiches, this bread is also excellent served warm with butter at dinnertime, steakhouse style. You’ll enjoy it toasted at breakfast, and it makes a pretty cool french toast too!

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[Sourdough] Dark Molasses & Honey Bread
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

[Sourdough] Dark Molassses & Honey Bread

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Rising Time1 d
Total Time1 d 1 hr
Servings: 2 loaves


  • 200 grams sourdough starter recently fed & bubbly
  • 180 grams (1/2 cup) blackstrap molasses
  • 180 grams (1/2 cup) honey
  • 240 grams (1 cup) brewed coffee
  • 240 grams (1 cup) water
  • 400 grams dark rye flour
  • 400 grams whole wheat flour
  • 100 grams all-purpose flour
  • 10 grams (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) salt
  • 25 grams (1/4 cup) rolled oats


  • Combine the sourdough starter, molasses, honey, coffee, and water in a large bowl or lidded container. Add the flours and salt, and mix until it forms a thick, sticky dough. Cover the container loosely with its lid, plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, and allow it to rise at room temperature for approximately 1 day, give or take a few hours, until roughly doubled in size.
  • When you’re ready to bake, prepare a surface for working with the dough by lightly dusting it with all-purpose or whole-wheat flour. Preheat oven to 400 If you have a baking stone, place it on the middle rack. Even though the next steps take some time, start the preheat now anyway; give the oven plenty of time to get the stone really hot.
  • To shape the dough, begin by evenly dividing the dough into two halves. Pick up each piece, dust the dough with a handful of all-purpose flour and use your hands to shape it into a ball, creating gentle surface tension by stretching each of the four sides of the dough down to the bottom of the ball (the “gluten coat” technique). Shape the dough-ball by patting the dough into an approximately 1.5″ thick rectangle, folding/pressing one edge to the center, rolling the rest of the way, tucking under each of the two ends, and pinching the seam.
  • Place the shaped loaves on a piece of floured parchment paper placed on a large cutting board (or pizza peel, or other sturdy, rimless platter). If you won’t be using a baking stone, place the parchment onto a large sheet pan instead. Brush the loaves lightly with water, and sprinkle with oats. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and rise in a warm place for about 30-45 minutes, until the loaves have begun to plump.
  • Use a sharp knife to score the proofed bread, slicing into each loaf with 2-3 shallow cuts (approximately 0.5″ deptat a 45 degree angle. Open the oven and carefully slide the loaves along with their parchment liner onto the baking stone (or transfer the sheet pan). Bake the loaves for about 40-50 minutes until they are deeply browned; doneness can be tested by knocking the loaves bottoms to listen for a hollow sound, or measuring an internal temperature of at least 190 Let the loaves cool on a wire rack, and wait until they are fully cool before slicing or storing in any kind of container; paper bags recommended for storage.

10 thoughts on “[Sourdough] Dark Molasses & Honey Bread”

  1. Mary … I am trying to convert 200 grams of sourdough starter to cups … I’m having a hard time finding it … can you help? Julia

    1. Hi Julia, it can vary quite a lot depending on how active the starter is (active yeast = more air bubbles = less density). But when I stir mine down before measuring, I get about 240g per cup, so that would roughly be a heaping 3/4 cup for 200 grams.

  2. So I am New to the sourdough started – I purchased Some from a grocery store but when you say recently fed and bubbly what does that mean?
    Or do I just add what I purchased With all the ingredients and it will Rise?


    1. Welcome to sourdough! That’s a great question. I’ve never tried the storebought packets, but is it right that you’re using something like this? I believe that stuff is designed to mix straight into dough, but because it contains instant yeast along with dried sourdough culture, it will rise much faster than this recipe calls for. If the stuff you bought seems way different, let me know what you got? My starter lives in a jar in my fridge, so it needs to be given a handful of flour once or twice before it wakes up and gets bubbly. My post about that style of starter is here if you want to read! Happy baking!

  3. 5 stars
    This looks AMAZING! Working on Day 3 of my first sourdough starter, I hope to make this soon!
    Can this be halved for making just one loaf?
    Also, I’m allergic to rye. Do you think this will work with whole wheat and all purpose flours?

    1. Congrats on your new pet! (: Not a problem at all to halve the recipe. I suspect you’ll have good results if you swap the rye flour for more whole wheat… Rye actually poses a couple of challenges in bread baking, so you may find you have a more supple dough or even a little faster/higher rise with that modification. My advice would be to compare your dough to the pre-rise photo I included to check if the moisture looks right – you may need to add a bit of extra water/coffee or a bit of extra flour to get the right balance. Good luck!!

  4. I have been searching for a squaw bread recipe using sourdough and of course I found one on KAF. Unfortunately I do not have any rye but I do have some oat flour. Could I incorporate that into this recipe? Thanks for all KAF is doing to work with bakeries across the country to help feed people and support our healthcare workers!

    1. I can’t say for sure how well it would perform with oat flour… the amount of gluten would be lower, so I would worry there’s a risk of loss of structure. Maybe it would be OK if you used a higher ratio of whole wheat with less oat flour. If you try, please let us know what happens!

  5. Hi I made this today and it tastes delicious. The dough doubled but not much of a rise in the oven. Is it supposed to be a heavy dense loaf?

    1. I tend to get a decent oven spring, but I do think I’d call it a little denser than most other loaves I make (no airy open crumb).

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