Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bread for Brunch - Honey Oat Bread

Every time I make a new kind of sandwich bread, I swear that this one is the best ever and that I have finally found the ultimate loaf. Well, what can I say. This one is no exception. I have always liked using honey instead of sugar not only because it is healthier but also because the flavor is more earthy - it is the flavor of good country-style bread, not the flavor of the manor house. This is peasant bread made with good honest ingredients, the kind any good farmer would use. Using oats (in this case cooked rolled oats) adds a depth of flavor and a weightiness to the bread that makes it perfect for toasting and covering with butter or jam. Or for that matter you can cover it with cheese and roasted veggies too. But then you've moved back to the manor house. Best to keep it simple. Toast lightly, spread the butter thick.

Here's What You'll Need: (for 1 large loaf)

* If using a standing mixer or a food processor use ice water instead of room temperature water because mixers tend to heat the dough  and that will affect the yeast activity.

For the sponge:
1 cup water *
1 Tbs. instant dry yeast
1 1/2 cups AP flour

Mix the sponge ingredients together to form a loose dough. Cover and let it rise until doubled, about 1/2 hour.


For the dough:
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup milk powder (I use non-dairy baby formula)
1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
2 Tbs. cornmeal
2 Tbs. butter or margarine (or vegetable oil, which is healthier)
1/2 Tbs. salt

Here's What You'll Need to Do:

1. Stir down the sponge, then add the other ingredients, mixing vigorously to form a smooth dough. Turn the mixer to medium speed for 8 to 10 minutes to form a strong but soft dough. If you are kneading by hand, then knead for about 15 minutes to get the same strong but soft dough.

2. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and let it rise to double in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.

3. Without deflating too much, shape the dough into a loaf, then place in a loaf pan, seam side down to rise again. It is ready when it has risen above the rim of the pan, about 45 minutes.

4. About 20 minutes before the final rise is done preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Lightly brush melted butter or oil over the bread, then slash it down the middle just before baking.

5. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until it becomes a deep brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.