My Take: Sirloin Saloon Bread

When I went to school in Burlington, there was a restaurant down the road in Shelburne called the Sirloin Saloon*.  It was a steakhouse, and had a salad bar and good steak tips, but to me, the outstanding thing was their bread.  It was dark and sweet and hearty.  They served it warm, and it was so good that they offered it sold as loaves to take home.  Seen whole, the loaves were big and round and rustic looking.  I think this was unusual for the mid-eighties.

I was remembering that bread a few years ago and wanted to make my own, but couldn’t find any recipe leads on-line.  I called the restaurant and spoke with someone in the kitchen.  This is how I remember the conversation going:

Me:  Hi.  I had your bread a number of years ago and really loved it.  I’ve since moved away and was wondering if you give out the recipe?

Him:  No.

Me:  Oh.  Well, if you don’t give the recipe, do you give hints?

Him:  Maybe.  Ask me.

Me.  Ok.  I remember it being dark and sweet.  Do you use molasses for the sweetener?

Him:  Yeah.  We use one to one to a half…dark molasses, light molasses and honey.

Me: (frantically scribbling):  I think it’s whole grain.  Do you use any rye flour?

Him:  No.  We use high gluten white and rye flakes.

Me:  Rye flakes?  What are rye flakes?

Him:  Like oatmeal.  Only rye.

Me:  Huh.  Rye flakes.  Is there any caraway or anise in it?

Him:  No.  It’s a pretty standard loaf.  Listen, I gotta go.

Me:  Ok, thanks a lot…love your (click) bread.

From these hints pulled from a laconic chef, I was able to reproduce, at least to my taste buds and memory, the Sirloin Saloon bread. Here’s how I did it (the full recipe is at the end of this post).

1. He said it was a “pretty standard loaf”.

I know from baker’s percentages that a standard dough is about 55-70% hydration, 2% salt, 1% yeast, and 8-16% sweetener.  For a Swedish limpa, the sweetener is 20% and for a Portuguese loaf is 22%.  I didn’t remember the bread being as sweet as Portuguese bread, so I decided to try 20%.  This information gave me a good start on the broad strokes of the recipe.

2.  The mysterious rye flakes

I had never heard of rye flakes, so I did an on-line search and found that they can be bought at beer brewing supply stores.  I went to my local brew store and got a two-pound bag.  The look a lot like old-fashioned oats, except they are firmer and darker.  In other recipes using oats in bread, you are told to soak them in hot water before combining them with the other ingredients so I decided to do the same thing with the rye flakes.

3.  He uses high gluten flour.

I don’t use high gluten (or bread flour), but I know it is 13.7% protein.  My King Arthur all-purpose flour is 11.7% protein.  I happened to have on hand (who remembers why) some vital wheat gluten.  So after doing some math, I found that if I added 3 grams of vital wheat gluten to every 100 grams of all-purpose flour, I could bring up the protein to 13.7%.

In the interest of full disclosure, I forgot to add the wheat gluten to my flour when making the recipe for this post!  It came out just fine, so I guess you can also use plain, old, all-purpose flour.

4: A ratio of 1:1:0.5 dark molasses: molasses: honey

I had regular (unsulphered Grandmother’s) molasses but never heard of dark molasses.  I again went on-line, but the only other type of molasses I could find was blackstrap molasses.  I got this at the grocery store.  It has a very different taste than regular molasses, stronger and less sweet.  It reminds me of black licorice.  So equal amounts of dark and light molasses, and half the amount of honey.

The recipe:

I knew from my honey oat bread, that 710 gm flour plus 114 gm oats makes dough enough for 2 loaves, so that is where I started:

My Sirloin Saloon Bread Recipe

I made my own high protein bread flour by combining 800 gm all-purpose flour plus 25 gm vital wheat gluten.  Just buy bread flour, it’s easier. (I used all-purpose flour on this batch, and it was fine.)


114 gm (1 c) rye flakes

236 gm (1 c) boiling water

Let this soak until softened and cooled to about 110 degrees.

Add to softened rye:

710 gm  (about 6.25 c) all-purpose flour

322 gm (1 1/3 c) milk, warmed to 110 degrees

The dough at this stage will look dry.

Combine and add to dough:

66 gm (3T) light molasses

66 gm (3T) blackstrap molasses

33 gm (1.5 T) honey

16 gm (5t) kosher salt

18 gm (1T) butter, melted

Finally add:

8 gm (1 pkg or 2 ¼ t) active dry yeast

Begin to mix the dough in earnest.  At this point it will be really sticky.

Knead dough in Kitchen Aid mixer until smooth (about 7-10 minutes).  I’ve never tried kneading this by hand, it starts out pretty sticky.

My advice would be if you want to knead it by hand, prepare to get messy and use a light hand when  flouring the counter.

Through the magic of kneading, it will turn into a smooth, slightly tacky dough.

Place the dough in a container, cover and let rise until double (about an hour).

Behold!  It has risen!

I ease it out of the dough bucket, knead it a couple of times and divide it in half.  I decide to make a loaf and a boule.  I spray the loaf pan with Pam, shape the loaf and place it in the pan.  For the boule, I round it into a ball shape, and using my hands and the counter, I tuck the sides of the boule under, stretching the surface of the dough tight.

I place the boule, seam side down on a floured cloth, and place it in a bowl to help it rise more up than out for this final rise.

I let the bread rise about 1.5 times (about an hour).

At the start of the final rise, I preheat the oven with a baking stone to 350 degrees.  It takes extra preheating time to get the stone nice and hot.  The only reason I’m using a stone is because I am baking a free-form loaf.  I slash the loaves…

and bake on the baking stone for 35-40 minutes.  In the above picture, I’ve put a little cornmeal on a baking sheet to serve as a peel to slide the boule onto the stone.  I don’t bake either of the loaves on a baking sheet.

The bread came out very good.  Hearty and sweet, with a little crunch on the crust.  The interior has a fairly tight, but soft crumb.

If I were going to tweak this recipe a bit more, I think I would try adding some whole wheat or rye flour to make it a little more hearty and not so soft.  Also, if I were baking only rustic loaves (ie. not in a pan) I would up the temperature to 400 degrees and maybe introduce a little steam at the start to make the crust darker and crustier.  All in all, I think this recipe is a very good approximation of the Sirloin Saloon bread I remember from the 1980’s..

My Take:  Sirloin Saloon Bread

114 gm (1 c) rye flakes

236 gm (1 c) boiling water

Combine and let this soak until softened and cooled to about 110 degrees.

Add to softened rye:

710 gm  (about 6.25 c) all-purpose flour (or bread flour)

322 gm (1 1/3 c) milk, warmed to 110 degrees

Combine and add to dough:

66 gm (3T) light molasses

66 gm (3T) blackstrap molasses

33 gm (1.5 T) honey

16 gm (5t) kosher salt

18 gm (1T) butter, melted

Finally sprinkle on top:

8 gm (1 pkg or 2 ¼ t) active dry yeast

Mix dough to combine, and then knead by machine until smooth, but still tacky (about 7-10 minutes).  Set dough aside to rise until doubled, about 40-60 minutes.  Knead dough a couple of times, divide in half and shape.  If making loaves, spray pan with cooking spray.  Set dough aside to rise about 1.5 times (about 45-60 minutes).  Preheat oven to 350 degrees during this final rise.  If making free-form loaves (not in a pan) bake on a baking stone, so make sure this is well pre-heated.  Bake bread for about 35-40 minutes.

*I just found that the Shelburne location has closed but it has locations in Rutland and Manchester


24 responses to “My Take: Sirloin Saloon Bread

  1. In the interest of science, baking, and authenticity I will volunteer to taste your Sirloin Saloon bread & let you know if it is a close approximation to the original. Although the 80’s may seem like a long time ago, that bread was very memorable (my taste buds are tingling just thinking about it). You may need to send me a few loaves so I can make sure you have it right (I am willing to make this carbohydrate sacrifice for you).

  2. You are SUCH an incredible investigative scientist/baker. WOW. Can’t wait to try this. You’re amazing.

  3. You’re like Sherlock Freakin’ Holmes. That sounds great. And are you serious…rye flakes? And you shop at P&G? Are they different from the brew type. In the eighties…yes, there were places making great bread. Old hippies.

  4. Katie..I thank you for your sacrifice.

  5. Cristin…you would love it, give it a try. It looks weird for a bit, but it will come together in the kneading.

  6. Elisa…Does P+G carry them..I should have checked, it would have been closer. I have only seen the ones I got at the brew place. I think you could sub oatmeal and no one would be the wiser. The big flavor I think comes from all the molasses, especially the blackstrap.

  7. Your knitting picture looks awesome too. I tried to make a sweater about 10 years ago. It looked like a ransom note.

  8. Rosemary! You make me laugh. I have never tried a sweater, but I am thinking a kid-sized one might be doable. And if it is horrible (a ransom note!) it shouldn’t take that long, because it is kid-sized…I think that may be why I seem to stick to hats. Short and sweet.

  9. I actually have a 1/2 loaf that my uncle brought me from the restaurant and your recipe looks very close. The only real difference that I see is that this one has many seeds of some sort and is extremely dense and heavy.

  10. I will say it is the yummiest bread I have ever eaten……

  11. Sorry to keep posting but I’m just hoping to help some. This bread that I have from the Sirloin Saloon is much darker in color. I’m not really a bread maker so I wouldn’t really know how to tweek it. I’m just going by my visual.

  12. Thanks for your comments Jennifer. I haven’t had bread from the actual restaurant in many years. I’m curious, can you tell what kind of seeds they are? Also, is the crust crunchy? Mine comes out soft, and I was thinking I would like it crisper just for my personal preference, but I don’t remember if the real one was crunchy. Next time I make it, I think I will add a bit of whole wheat and rye flour. The rye flour would especially darken it. Enjoy your bread!

  13. I think the seeds might be bulgur wheat but I’m not sure. I have an e-mail out to the restaurant. If I don’t hear back I’ll give them a call. I figure maybe I’ll get a few hints and one of my questions will be the seeds. I have read up on the bulgur wheat and it says it has a chewy texture and I find this bread very chewy. The crust does seem a bit cruchy. I found a recipe online for a bulgur wheat bread that sounds extremely similar to your recipe. I’m going to try it but just add the rye flakes. I found it at

  14. I honestly think it is an adaptation of the Anadama Bread recipe. It has the same flavor.

  15. Okay, I made my bread today. It was extremely close to the original. The only difference is the outside was not as dark. The flavor was almost exact. It didn’t seem to rise as high but that could be my error, I’m not really a bread maker. I need to gather my notes and make a recipe of what I did because I used 4 different recipes to get one.

  16. If you put a pie plate with hot water on the bottom rack of the oven when you bake your bread it will make a crisper crust.

  17. Jennifer! Great to hear that you had success with your combination of recipes. I’d love to know how you did it. When I’m making other types of bread, I often steam the oven before I bake it, but I just never tried it with this loaf. I think I will next time, I like a crunch crust. What kind of seeds did you use, or was it bulgar wheat as you had suspected? Did you get any response from the restaurant?

    Enjoy your bread!

  18. I never got a reply from the restaurant. Kind of rude I think to not atleast respond with a “No, we won’t tell you anything”. I doesn’t matter really because I think I have it pretty close.
    Okay. the first loaf I tried the bulgur and I tried soaking the rye flakes but I don’t think that was it. The next day I tried it again minus the bulgur, double the rye flakes and put them in dry. I also used the high gluten flour, HUGE difference….I had gone to the health food store and asked about the flour and she said that the high gluten is even better than bread flour. She was right. The bread was extremly close to the original. The flavor was the same but the color was a bit off. I think they used more black strap molasses than I did. As for the seeds, if you put rye flakes in dry then it actually makes the seeds that are in the bread. This is what I used.

    3tsp yeast dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
    2tbsp honey
    4tbsp molasses
    4tbsp blackstrap molasses
    Dissolve honey and molasses in 3/4cup hot water
    Add 1 1/4cups milk and set aside.
    In seperate bowl combine 6 1/2 cups high glute flour and 3 tsp salt.
    Combine with milk mixture and yeast and mix in kitchen aid for about 10 minutes. The dough is very stiff. Let rise about an hour. I find it doesn’t really rise like a regular bread would. The original wasn’t really real high either, it was actually very dense and heavy for the size of the loaf. Make loaves and rise again. I did the round loaves because it was easier to tell if it matched the original. I placed a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven while baking. I also misted the top of the loaf with water occasionally to make a crisp crust. I baked at 400 for 10 minutes and then lowered the heat to 350 for 30 minutes. This made 2 loaves. Very yummy……..

  19. How do I post a picture here? I have a picture of the original bread but can’t figure out how to post one.

  20. Sounds great Jennifer! I was wondering if the seeds you were seeing were actually the rye flakes. If you look at one of my kneaded dough pictures, you can see some of them. You can also see them slightly in the finished product. Did you increase the flakes to 2 cups?
    I also like your idea of crisping the crust and increasing the baking temperature. I do this when I make a more artisan style bread, and I think it would give a better product here too.
    I don’t know how you could post a picture in the comments. If you have some type of online account (like flickr?) , you could post the link to that here…but other than that, I’m not really sure.
    I like how you mention you “aren’t a bread baker” :) I think you need to change your title to “Bread Detective”.
    The last thing I would suggest, and that I am going to try, it to add some rye flour. It will make the bread darker, and add some chew to it, I think. It acts weird (it gets gummy, if I remember correctly, I have not used it very much at all), so I was thinking I would only replace about a cup of the white flour with rye.
    Great job on the bread!

  21. Oh! I just remembered something. I looked at the original bulgur recipe you posted, and I think they knead in the bulgur. And you added the rye flakes dry. I know that sometimes dry seeds or hard pieces and things like that can “cut” the gluten strands as they are kneaded in, and that can cause the bread not to rises as high. I think the best way to maximize rise when adding hard bits like this is to add it after the kneading is done, and just lightly knead the seed or whole grains to try and evenly incorporate them.

    Also as a caveat, I know that high sugar content can also inhibit rise, so for some particularly sweet breads, bakers switch to a different type of yeast (see SAF red vs. SAF gold yeast). I don’t know off hand at what percentage of sugar this becomes an issue, but if you increase the molasses, you might encounter this.

  22. Thanks for your input. I considered the rye flour too. I think I’ll try it. Actually the recipe that I adapted did say to knead the grains in, I just took the lazy way out, thinking that it wouldn’t make a difference. I also got new yeast for my next batch, I think mine was old. The “seeds” were definitly the rye flakes because that part is just like the original now.
    I didn’t know about the sugar content thing. I’ll check into that and see what can be done to counteract that. I really wish I could figure out how to post pics so I could put a pic of mine and there’s so you could see the difference and offer suggestions. I’ll work on figuring that out.

  23. Some folks recommend using the SAF gold yeast at sugar % of greater than 12% (using bakers percent). The recipe I did above is 20% sugar, but I think it rose fine with just the regular yeast. If you wanted to substantially increase the sugar, you might want to try the SAF gold…although I have no experience with it. Here’s a link…it is a really good resource.

  24. Pingback: Sirloin Saloon Bread Update | :: Had The Radish ::

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