Black treacle bread recipe

 

On my latest visit to Dublin, I tasted a delicious loaf of Irish treacle bread. Dark, heavy and deliciously earthy. However, it was of course a soda bread and when I returned home, I decided to make a sourdough version of the Irish black treacle bread. The black treacle bread recipe I developed uses cracked rye and rye flour to support the rich and aromatic flavours of the treacle.

Black treacle bread slice
Black treacle bread slice

Before I jump into the recipe, I wanted to share a few facts about treacle. I was astounded when, at a conference in Powerscourt Hotel in Co. Wicklow, someone mentioned that Dublin was built around the largest natural treacle lake – a fake fact which was quickly dispelled by a quick Wikipedia check on the matter.

Lyle's black treacle
Britain’s black treacle brand Lyle’s

What is black treacle?

  • Uncrystallised dark syrup, a byproduct of sugar cane refining, obtained from later boilings in the process
  • About 55% sucrose
  • Also known as dark molasses
  • Almost-black with an otherworldly, thick, viscous consistency (for any Star Trek fans here, it really reminds me of Armus in the episode “Skin of Evil”!)
Armus Skin of Evil Star Trek
Armus in “Skin of Evil”  – Star Trek

Back to actual treacle… so why use treacle in baking?

  • Black treacle is rich in vitamins, minerals and iron
  • It adds a distinctively dark colour, intense and distinctive bitter-sweet burnt caramel flavour and moisture to baked dishes
  • When baking with dried fruits, black treacle accentuates the fruit flavour and adds a deep, rich note
Black treacle bread
Rye-based black treacle bread

Black treacle bread recipe

Treacle bread ingredients

Sourdough

  • 50g rye sourdough starter
  • 150g wholemeal rye flour
  • 150g water

Boiled rye grain soaker

  • 150g chopped rye grains
  • 150g boiling water
  • 5g salt

Main dough

  • 500g wholemeal rye flour
  • 50g black treacle
  • 10g salt
  • 350g water, warm
  • Sunflower oil (for greasing the baking tin)

Baking equipment I used for this recipe

 How to make black treacle bread

  1. Prepare the sourdough and boiled rye grain soaker by combining the respective ingredients in two separate bowls and mixing thoroughly. I use a silicone spatula to do this which works well.
  2. Cover the bowls with their lids and keep at room temperature for about 16 to 24 hours.
  3. On day 2, after the 16 to 24 hour wait, dissolve the black treacle in the warm water. Use a small bowl or pan to do so.
  4. Combine 300g of the sourdough (the rest goes back into the fridge for your next bake) and all of the rye grain soaker with the treacle water and the remaining dough ingredients (except the sunflower oil).
  5. Work the dough for a few minutes. You won’t be able to knead it but mix it well. Cover and rest for an hour or two.
  6. Give the dough another quick mix, then place in an oil-brushed baking tin (I use a dough scraper to help with this process). The dough should only fill about half the tin, giving it room to proof and rise to the top.
  7. Wrap a polythene bag around the loaf tin to prevent the dough from drying out.
  8. Proof for about 5 hours until almost doubled in size. Please note, the time required will depend on the room temperature. This process may happen more quickly if you live in warmer climes!
  9. Preheat the oven in time, then bake for 20 minutes at 240°C on the second lowest shelf, then at 200°C for another 50 minutes.
  10. Cool on a wire rack.