Honey Oatmeal Bread

At some point in the last year, I decided I wanted to figure out yeast. This may seem ambitious, but with no thermometer, no guidance and no prior experience, I conquered the beast.

I started with bagels. In retrospect, that was probably a poor idea, seeing as bagels are basically an extra complicated version of bread. They weren't great, but they were edible and that was certainly a boon.

Next, I moved on to cinnamon rolls (actually, Alton Brown's Overnight Cinnamon Rolls, which are divine). I think the gooey cinnamon made up for any shortfall in my bread baking skills. This is definitely a great first recipe with yeast! If you're nervous about yeast, or have had bad experiences in the past, try it.

Finally, I tried my hand at bread. I chose it because I had the ingredients on hand, and had been trying to figure out a way to use them for about a month. I've baked it probably 10 times, with several variations. Here I'll give you the basic recipe along with step-by-step instructions for the novice bread baker.

Honey Oatmeal Bread
(from Lanier B&B)
Yield: 3 loaves

1/8 cup active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105°-110°)
1 1/2 cup quick (or rolled) oats
3 cups warm water
1/3 cup melted butter
1 3/4 tablespoons salt
3/4 cup honey
7 1/2 cup bread flour

Yield: 1 loaf
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/6 cup (~2.67 tablespoons) of warm water [just fill your 1/3 cup measurement about halfway]
1/2 cup quick (or rolled) oats
1 cup warm water
scant 2 tablespoons melted butter
scant 2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup honey
2.5 cups bread flour

Basic Instructions:
In a bowl mix yeast and water and let stand. Mix next five ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add yeast and water mixture. Mix together. Add flour. Set to rise. Divide dough and knead. Shape into 3 loaves and put into greased standard loaf pans. Let rise. Bake at 325° for 35 minutes.

Optional: Coat top of loaves with egg white mixture and oats before baking.

Detailed Instructions for the Novice Bread Baker
1. Using preferably filtered water (but don't make a fuss about it), heat it until it's warm but not scalding. You should be able to dip your finger into it for around 5 seconds before it gets uncomfortable. [To give you a sense of 110°F, it's the legal upper limit for hot tub temperatures, so quite warm.]

2. Mix the smaller measurement of water (1/2 cup or 1/6 cup, depending on how many loaves you're making) and the yeast in a small bowl. [I suggest adding a pinch or two of sugar to the bowl, but I'm not really sure it makes a difference.] Swirl it around a little bit to make sure the clumps are a little broken up. Make sure you smell this—it's got a very distinct smell to it. After about 2 minutes, you'll start to see little itty bitty bubbles; after 5-7 minutes, the whole thing should be a delicate foam.
Note: each packet of yeast is around 2 teaspoons, and 1/8 cup is three packets.
Note: you can also use instant or rapid rise yeast, in which case you can either do this step and it'll go faster or you can just add the extra water and yeast straight to the larger bowl. Personally, I find this step wonderful, satisfying and delightful; plus it confirms that your yeast is still alive—if it doesn't bubble, it's dead.

3. Put your oats and water water together in a larger bowl. Add your melted butter and salt. Eyeball the honey measurement—it really doesn't have to be exact. More = sweeter loaf; less = less sweet loaf.
Note: Don't forget the salt! It helps slow down the yeast from bubbling, giving your bread more flavor. (I forgot the salt in a baguette recently; it was incredibly bland.)

4. Add the yeast/water foam to the large bowl and mix it in well. (Make sure the water in your large bowl isn't warmer than the water was in your small yeast bowl!)

5. Add the flour a cup at a time (half cup at a time for the smaller recipe!). Start by stirring with a fork, until it becomes really difficult. (Though dough will probably be really sticky at this point.) Add another half cup of flour and begin to knead by hand. To do this, flatten the dough out a bit in the bottom of your bowl or on a counter top. Take the far end of the dough and fold it in half on top of the near end. Push down firmly with the heel of your hand until the dough flattens. Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat. (Always turn the bread the same direction!) Keep adding a little bit of flour until the bread stops taking any more (it'll take forever to incorporate it) and is no longer sticky. If the dough is really difficult to knead, take a five minute break.

6. Once you've worked in all of the flour, clean your work bowl and oil it very lightly. Put the dough back in and wiggle/turn it a bit to get it grease all over. Cover the bowl with a damp towel (or two) and let the dough rest in a warm place for around 40 minutes. I stick my work bowl over a bowl filled with warm/hot water (make sure the hot water doesn't actually touch your work bowl!) You can also put your bowl in the oven. Preheat it to 400°F for 1 minute, turn it off, put your dough in and close the door.

The dough is ready if you can push your finger into it and the shape springs back very slowly or not at all.

7. Punch your fist into the middle of the dough (punching it down). Cut the dough into three pieces (unless you used a single loaf recipe) and gently shape each loaf into the same shape as the bottom of your loaf pan. There are many techniques to do this; I just gently stretch and push and pull until it fits. [If you're only making one at a time, remove a third of the dough and then knead it instead of punching down. Let the rest sit at chilly room temperature until rounds two and/or three. I've also tried to let them rest in a loaf shape while the other bakes.. it doesn't work very well.]

8. Let 'er rise again! This round it should rest for about 20 minutes (just enough time to preheat the oven to 325°F, huzzah... which you should do now.) Once your twenty minutes are up, brush the top with a mixture of one egg white and one tablespoon-ish of water. Sprinkle oats on top and throw her in the oven. [I oftentimes bake this with an 8x8 baking dish filled with hot water sitting underneath. I believe the moist environment helps the crust develop. Someday I'll compare and contrast results.]

9. After 35 minutes, take your loaves out of the oven. Let them cool for a few minutes in the loaf pans, but remove them within about 3 minutes. (Otherwise your side and bottom crusts will get soggy!) Also, try to keep the bottom on a surface with ventilation or absorption properties. Once it's cooled fully (20-30 minutes, so really 20 minutes because who could wait longer???) dig in!

Good luck, and let me know if you have any problems!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think! Leave a comment or question below.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...