Monday, August 9, 2010

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

The honey-wheat bread from last week was such a big hit, that I almost just made it again. But how silly would that be considering the growing stack of yeast bread recipes I have gathering on the table? So, in the spirit of this blog I tried something new and the results did not disappoint.

I mean really really surpassed even our pretty high expectations. The dough is not heavy at all, the oatmeal adds a lovely flavor, and the hint of molasses gives it nice depth, making a bread perfect as a treat on its own, or as a vehicle for a sandwich. In fact, I'm eating a plain "mis-cut" slice of it right now (to destroy the evidence...).

The recipe made two loaves and instead of halving it (thankfully!), I'm already planning on french toast for dinner one night this week. This bread as french toast, well, I just can't think of anything much better than that.

I realized after typing out the instructions that they maybe seem a bit long, but I promise that this bread is actually easier to make than the previous recipe, so if you're still yeast-bread shy, this would be a pretty easy foray into this (truly not scary) realm.

*I apologize for the color of the images taken in my kitchen. I'm working on a lighting solution, because I find it so off-putting. Please bear with me as I figure out the best fix. :o)

Oatmeal Molasses Bread from Williams Sonoma's "Essentials of Baking"

2 1/3 cups of water
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
2 packages active dry yeast
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons sea salt

1. Bring water to a boil. Place the oats into a heatproof bowl, pour the boiling water over the oats. Add the butter and molasses, and let the mixture cool to between 105 - 115°F; about 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm oat mixture and let stand for 5 minutes.

3. Stir in 3 cups of flour and the salt, adding 1 cup of flour at a time. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour (a bit at a time), mixing well until it has formed a soft dough.

4. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, this should take between 5 - 7 minutes. You can check the readiness with the windowpane test.

5. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place, without drafts, until it doubles. This could take anywhere between 1/2 hour (in my pizza-oven like apartment) to a full hour. To tell if the dough has truly doubled, take two fingers and press them into the dough, if the indentation remains (does not bounce back) your dough is ready.

6. Oil two 9x5 inch loaf pans. Deflate the dough (no need to punch, just lightly press down), and place it on a clean surface. Cut the dough in half using a knife or pastry scraper.

7. For each half, use the palm of your hand to flatten the dough into a rectangle. Roll the top third down onto itself and seal the seam by pushing the dough together. Don't be shy; you don't want the dough to bake apart. Roll the bottom third up and seal the seam. Place the dough logs into the pans, seam side down and gently flatten them evenly. The ends of the dough should touch the ends of the pans.

8. Cover them loosely with a clean towel and let them rise until they've doubled in size. The top of the loaves should crest the loaf pans. This should take between 45 and 60 minutes.

9. Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 375°F. Mist the tops of the loaves with water and sprinkle with rolled oats or sunflower seeds. Bake until the loaves are golden brown and the internal temperature is about 190°F. When the loaves are done, they will sound hollow when the bottoms are tapped. This should take between 40 to 45 minutes.

10. Cool for 1 to 2 hours before slicing. Enjoy!

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